Here's to you, women in the COVID-hit creative industry

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“Thud is the dry blow, from my temples to my toes. The air escaped my lungs and I am overcome by a deafening silence. It is over. Finally.”

What is behind a layoff?

This pandemic, among other issues, has demonstrated our unpreparedness. I was not prepared. It has shown us that no matter how good we are, numbers are the bottom line and survival has required cutting the fat, even when muscle is lost.

This letter is dedicated to all the women in this industry who are mothers and also, community managers, creatives, art directors, photographers, film directors, brand directors, account directors, clients, you know… human beings. 

This is for the women who have had to reinvent themselves, in order to strike a balance between raising a child or children and delivering the right answer in social media, a pitch and that campaign. Results.

It is dedicated to the women who have not slept since the start of this world catastrophe, while breastfeeding and attending ten Zooms every day. To those women who had to cut back on lifelines like the housekeeper and the nanny, and now have to clean the house, cook, help the kids with their home-schooling, referee fights between siblings, and who one day receive the second most feared call of this year:

“I’m sorry, but we have to let you go”.


Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Women have been hit the hardest by job losses during the pandemic. It seems it can only get worse.

In recessions past, it was men who were disproportionately affected when jobs like manufacturing and construction took a blow. But COVID-19 has affected industries that tend to hire women. Add to that childcare responsibilities, and you have what some are calling a “she-cession.” At the beginning of the year, women’s unemployment rate was lower than that of men’s. Then the pandemic hit, and the tables turned. In July, the unemployment rate for women was almost a percentage point higher. And it’s more pronounced for Black and Latina women.” - Marketplace.org

Welcome to my world.

All of a sudden I realized that all the concepts I created during these past few months to make women feel they are not alone, are just bullshit. How do I know? I am that woman.

No matter how good you are, you are too expensive for the company. It does not matter if you are great or brilliant even, it is you or four art directors. The accolades become irrelevant. Your awards are just paperweights… you are fucking fired.

Thank you, and talk to human resources.
Thank you, and please bring your own box because we do not have any.
Thank you, and please clean out your desk.

The fear is overwhelming, right?

The silence in your head appears to freeze your legs, and you shit your granny panties, you do not wear thongs anymore; you are a mom and do not have time to be sexy.

You are trying to listen and understand why, but you stop because at this point, your mouth is full of your own salty ill-gotten tears, and you go to the closet to hide so your kids don’t notice you are freaking out. Yes, women cry when this happens.

A lot of people I know received that call this year. Creative vice presidents, copywriters, producers, account managers, even CEOs. Now they are full time moms.

They were fired over the phone, you know, because of the pandemic.

Their careers, full of amazing experiences, all summarized in a 20-minute call.

The reasons are diverse. This pandemic has pulled you far away from your team, you don’t have the same rhythm, you are not up to date on your tasks, you don’t sleep. You might have kids, and from the companies’ perspective, that is a 'you' problem.

They don’t care if your father is sick and you have to sleep at the hospital, you need to deliver the scripts. The client is waiting.

They don’t care if you work on weekends - you are blessed to have this job, you need to show your appreciation, kiss their asses, and do whatever you can to shine. Avoid the alternative at all cost.

They don’t care if your house is a mess, they want to see your face in every Zoom meeting. Privacy is a luxury you just can’t seem to afford.

They don’t care if your mental health is at risk, you need to give them everything and thank them in the process.

Sound familiar?

A couple of calls to some friends, after being fired, led to looking back at the day’s events through ice-cold beer mugs, a couple of shots of mezcal, chased by a hangover that reminded me I am not 20 anymore. Then, I woke up with a very nasty headache and my new reality. I am finally free.


Photo by Aditya Saxena on Unsplash

Feels good right?

Best headache ever.

No more absurd meetings.
No more unnecessary pressure.
No more not sleeping.

And no more fear of being fired. It just happened. For some, it might have been their first time.

This experience is a swift and hard slap of reality, right across the face.

But let me tell you something… let me pitch you this: You are the brand. Understand that now. 

Pour into yourself the year of dedication and commitment you have time and time again for other brands. Be silent. Take it in. Just Do It. Impossible is Nothing. This shit works and you know it.  Become the embodiment of the next best thing. Be the game changer.

Wax on, wax off…. Your skills are sharp. From now on, you are going to sell what you can do. Build a strategy based on your strengths.

That call was the call you needed to get your ass into gear, you have everything to propel yourself into your God-given potential. You need to take care of yourself. Take the time to be calm and focus on your new life.

You’ve got this, you have been doing it for all these years. Take a new picture of yourself. Cut your hair, get a massage, start eating better, get laid, several times, until the oxytocin overflows and you are happy. Buy a new pair of jeans, a nice shirt and then:

Become a Brand.

Tell the world how good you are and the quality with which you do things. Tell the world that your flavour is the best and second to none. Show the world that your image and your style is unparalleled. From being no one, to being the product. All eyes are on you.

You know what clients hate about agencies. Cut the fat you know all too well. Now you are the CEO, the vice president and the copywriter, they only need to talk to you. Remember all the times you thought “this is not right” and do the right thing. Work with clients who want to work with amazing ideas. Your ideas!

Remember the Saatchi’s, the Ogilvy’s, and the Burnett’s before money made them crazy. This could be the opportunity you need to build your own story, go fucking crazy and become a millionaire! 

Yes, you are fired. Yes, you are a full time mom. Yes, this overall situation sucks. But you got this.

Now, call that client, she won’t wait forever. All you have is the love for this job and your skills.  Maybe, just maybe, this is the moment you needed to have your own agency.

You are the Brand now, and you just need one client who believes in you.

Just one.

Header image: Mr. President.