Creativity is about talent and not gender- Insight’s Copy Head

Adebola Adegbulugbe has had a thriving career in the creative industry in Nigeria. It is in recognition of this feat that organisers of Cannes Lions have selected her among a group of young 15 young creatives from around the world for a thrilling all-expense-paid trip to this year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, in a programme called ‘See It Be It’.

‘See It Be It’ was launched to highlight extremely talented creative women and accelerate their careers. The group will attend Cannes Lions as special guests of the Festival with travel, accommodation and a Complete Festival pass provided. The dedicated programme includes specially designed creative masterclasses and workshops, an insider tour of the jury room, one-to-one mentoring with some of the industry’s biggest names and exclusive networking events.

Adegbulugbe, who is the Copy Group Head, Insight Publicis, and is the only African on the programme, is a champion for gender balance in the creative industry.


Congratulation on being chosen for the Cannes Lions ‘See it Be it’ project. How did you find out that you have been picked and what was your initial response?

Thank you! It was quite interesting really. I received a phone call from a representative of the ‘See It Be It’ team in England; days after the deadline for the announcement of the winners had been made. Apparently, the email that announced that I had been selected among the15 women didn’t reach me. Later we discovered the reason was that my very unique Nigerian surname had been incorrectly spelt!  And because I was aware of the timeline when the winners would be selected, I believed I hadn’t made it. It was a truly wonderful surprise when I received the call.

Why do you think the organisers of the 2017 lion Cannes award have chosen to include you among an elite group of only 15 women in the global advertising industry?

Well, it must be because they believe my inclusion in the program will be of value and that I will bring a unique perspective to the mix. The selection process was quite rigorous. After an intensive written application from hundreds of applicants worldwide, 30 women were shortlisted. Each short-listed candidate then undergoes a detailed 30 to 40 minute interview over the phone before the final selection is made.

What is the implication of this outcome on your career in the advertising industry?

Undoubtedly, it will give me the opportunity to develop my creative and leadership skills to a more advanced level. The Cannes Lions See It Be It is an exclusive program that selects high-potential senior creative women in different creative disciplines from around the world and exposes them to an intensive training that builds confidence and accelerates female leaders in the industry. The ultimate aim of the program is to change the ratio of women leaders in agency creative departments.

Your agency, Insight Publicis appointed its first female Creative Directive after 36 years, and she is the only female Creative Director in Nigeria, could that have influenced this outcome?

Well, while that in itself is a ground-breaking achievement, the selection of See It Be It candidates is carried out by a team of highly professional Cannes Lions representatives, including the current See It Be It Ambassador and awarded solely on merit and suitability.

There is an aggressive push for gender balance in the creative industries in Europe and America, but Nigeria seems to be too far behind in that regard, is this a reflection of a lack of ambition by the ladies or the absence of equal opportunity?

I don’t think lack of ambition by women has anything to do with it. The potential that female creatives have must first be recognized and put into consideration in the advertising industry in Nigeria. I honestly believe if more talented female creatives were given the opportunity to reach leadership positions in creative agencies and the industry as a whole, more women would be encouraged to come into the profession, stay in it and work to advance their careers. You have to first see the potential in someone before you can even consider giving them any type of opportunity for development and advancement. But as you rightly put it, the recognition and elevation of female creatives in Nigeria is lacking. What we fail to understand is that globally it is no longer just a man’s world anymore and Nigeria seems to be playing catch up.

What are some of the things that can be done to encourage gender equality?

I believe first and foremost the advertising industry should recognize that creativity is about talent and not gender. For example if a man can create a great campaign for washing detergent, a woman can equally create an awesome campaign for beer. Therefore female creatives should be exposed to the same opportunities in terms of training, development and recognition as their male counterparts. Secondly, let’s remove all stereotypes and see each creative person as a professional that has something to bring to the table.

What are your future goals in the creative industry?

To continue to do more great work that can win international awards and stand side by side with other global players. And in so doing, put the spotlight on creative women and advocate for their recognition in the Nigerian advertising industry.



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