Battle of the sexist briefs

Laura Glover

TMCM Copywriting | Freelance Creative Copywriter

Male product = Male writer. You’ve got to be kidding me.

Every day there seems to be a new story around women standing up for themselves in the media.

Which got me thinking about the advertising world.

What once was a very male-dominated industry (think Mad Men) is now becoming a more balanced, and fairer industry (thanks to the real-life Peggys).

And I’m not talking about wages – let’s leave that for another post!

Times have definitely changed for the better, with more and more female figureheads in commanding roles across the industry, including Creative Directors and even the occasional CCO.

But what I’ve noticed that still happens time and time again, and has always been a bugbear of mine, is the assigning of briefs.

I’m still seeing job adverts openly asking for just females or just males to apply. Yes, I understand you may be selling tampons to a female audience but why can’t a bloke offer a ‘fresh’ perspective?

I’ve worked in places where all the ‘manly’ products went to the male writers and the ‘pretty, I want to smell like a daisy’ products went to the female writers.

Why there should be a divide, to this day, is beyond me.

Yes, men can’t ever experience what it may mean to use tampons but it doesn’t mean they can’t sell them.

I’ve worked with a guy who wrote for feminine hygiene, beauty and fashion products and his tone was always spot on. Likewise, I’ve seen brilliant Rugby World Cup lines, erectile dysfunction copy and even a Viagra project from one particularly versatile copy queen.

And do you know how? They got to know the demographic. They read, researched and wrote. Or they simply created a great line or concept that tapped into an emotion. Just as any good copywriter should be able to do.

Perhaps this could be an agency ‘thing’ as the more ‘male’ centric briefs have come my way – IT, home automation, vaping – ever since going freelance.

What’s your experience? Is gender bias still a thing? What do we need to do so that everyone gets their fair share of the briefs (and knickers)? Let me know your thoughts.

First published on


29th May 2023

Jackie Barrie

I was asked how I – a woman – could write an ad to target a male audience. I replied: “If I wanted to write a murder novel, I wouldn’t actually have to kill someone.” They got the point. We copywriters do our research.

What do you think?

Your email will not be published. ProCopywriters members: log in before commenting so your comment links to your profile.

Become a member

Join ProCopywriters

Connect with peers, develop your skills and extend your reach on our blog.

Become a member
Learn online

Online workshops

Every month we get an expert, an author or a professional trainer to deliver a one-hour presentation on copywriting, marketing or digital media.

Browse events