2 mins to read

Telecom's blow-up man comes in handy for gender debate

Thu, 08 Apr 2010

A while ago, Rapp did a campaign for the Telecom T-Stick where they sent out a blow-up doll out to creative directors. The insight was, you could blow up the man, stick him in your seat at work, use the T-Stick to go mobile and no-one would know you were gone.

The Blow Up Man is designed to look like your stereotypical creative: munted jeans, sneakers, a bit of face fuzz. In fact, the general consensus is, he looks a lot like James Blunt.

It's a nifty campaign and one that stuck in my mind (possibly because they were kind enough to send me a blow-up Telecom man of my own, although he met death by stiletto at a party soon after) so when we decided to tackle the topic of the lack of women at the top of creative departments on the Ad Show this week, it seemed only natural to invite the Blow Up Man (aka Manuel) along as a guest. Pat Murphy from Rapp came along to explain the ins and outs (so to speak) of Manuel's existence.

Panelists Maggie Mouat, Tracey Barnett and Karen Maurice-O'Leary (who's just started her own agency My Little Tornado) dissected the issues.

Why the lack of women at the upper levels in creative departments? One suggestion is the baby call for women when they're getting higher up the ladder. True for many occupations, but it doesn't explain why there's a dearth in creative departments and not, say, in planning or suitage.

A male CD I talked to while researching for the show suggested that the abundance of female marketing directors means a male creative department is a good match. Bit of chemistry and so on. Not being a female marketing director dealing with male creatives, I can't personally say.

Is the creative arena really that blokey? One female creative we spoke to during research said she'd experienced a noticeable amount of sexism, but it often came from female marketing heads – so perhaps our man in the previous paragraph has a point.

It's all a ripe area for further exploration, which is why I'm interested to hear from anyone with an opinion on the topic. Off the record, on the record, with or without any salacious gossip. Email

Also on the show this week, Gavin Bradley from Waikanae agency Luvly gets honest about the Rugby World Cup ad. (Opinions on that one also welcome.) And roving reporter extraordinaire Simon Pound has a Skype chat to Jason Lonsdale, a Kiwi at Saatchi & Saatchi London who worked on the infamous T-Mobile "life's for sharing" train station dance. Epic!

Get thee to a TV screen near you for tonight's episode, 9.35pm on TVNZ. Or hit up OnDemand tomorrow for the new-style goodies. Our lovely guests:

Gavin Bradley, Pat Murphy & Sue Young.

Nicola Kean & Sean Gillespie.

Richard Howarth & Louise Chater.

Karen Maurice-O'Leary & Maggie Mouat.

Alex Erasmus & Jane Palmer.

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Telecom's blow-up man comes in handy for gender debate