Peggy Kreshel, advertising professor at the University of Georgia, speaks with Liz Schroeder, Executive Director of the Advertising Women of New York (AWNY), and Margie Goldsmith, President and Founder of MG Productions, on October 27, 2003, in the AWNY offices in New York City. The participants discuss the history of AWNY—possibly the first organization of professional advertising women, founded in 1912—and some of the organization’s many activities today, particularly The Good, The Bad and The Ugly awards, which have been given annually since 1997. Goldsmith and Schroeder then speak candidly about images of women in advertising today, women working in the field of advertising, and diversity.
First, I want to thank you for taking time to do this interview—I know how busy you are. Let’s begin by having each of you give a quick overview of your career. There are so many women in advertising classes right now, and I think it’s important for them to hear how women have gotten to where they are, in various positions in the industry. Sometimes, it is a circuitous route. So, if you could, just start by talking a bit about how you came to be here today.
I didn’t grow up thinking I was going into advertising. Far from it. My father was a copywriter, and there was no way I wanted to go near advertising. But basically, I went on a Columbia University charter flight to Europe, and I just decided not to come back to go on to graduate school. I’d gotten my degree, and I wanted to be a writer. So, I did write a novel there, and it was published. But, I didn’t know that you couldn’t necessarily make your living from one novel, that you had to keep going. You couldn’t live for the rest of your life on $3,000. So I fell into film production there. I’d been stage managing summers in New York and at various summer stock places, but there was no American theater in Europe. Film was the next closest thing. I trained under a brilliant man, a genius—John Berry—who had trained under Orson Welles.
I became an assistant director in film, and then I came back to live in America, in New York City. There wasn’t a lot going on in the film industry in New York. Most of it was being done in LA, so I fell into film production at a company which used. . . well, film was their medium. They were kind of a public relations company, doing public service announcements and video news releases and documentaries and corporate videos. I stayed with them ten years, and then they wouldn’t give me equity because I was a woman. So, I decided I would open my own business. Which I did. I did that, and have been doing that ever since. And also, in the past seven years, I’ve added a second career, which is writing, freelance writing, mainly travel writing, adventure travel writing, and luxury writing. So, that’s how I got here in a very round-about way. Most people don’t go to Europe and come back here to try. It doesn’t necessarily work that way.
Great. Liz, how about you?
My journey is a little less exciting, starting out when I did, many, many, many years ago, when we were basically secretaries. And although I had a marketing degree, and I knew I wanted to be in that area, I got a job as a secretary to the promotion director at Fawcett Publications, which no longer exists. And, at that time, I made up my mind, right away, this is what I wanted to be when I grew up: a promotion director. I managed to work my way up through the ranks and just happened to be lucky to have some mentors, who obviously were men at the time, who...