We’re happy to introduce you to Kiah Nicholas, Advertising Creative at BMF, Sydney
What is the piece of work you’re most proud of and why?
I’d probably have to say, #RedefineWomen. A proactive social campaign that changed the dictionary and stamped out sexism from 22M+ Google define searches on average per/year. Together, planner, Georgia Patch and I changed definition examples like: Princess – stop being such a princess and support your husband Rabid – a rabid feminist Nagging – a nagging wife Conniving – heartless and conniving women We spotted, identified and researched the problem of sexist examples of words being used in the dictionary. We figured out who was responsible, how the definitions were being aggregated and how change could be affected. From there, were developed the whole shebang: idea, execution, strategy, design, rollout across Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Tumblr, copywriting, petitioning Google, rallying a community of supporters, social media community management, creating and sending out PR kits, interviewing with online, print and radio media outlets…everything. #RedefineWomen was trending within 48hrs. It got 80M+ views. It was written about and shared by Times, Huffington Post, UN Women, Zooey Deschanel and more. And it stamped out sexism from 22M+ Google searches on average per/year. We never set out to win at One Show, any of the other award shows, or anything like that. We didn’t think we could make a difference. We were just two people. But we wanted to try. We set out to make a corner of the world a tiny little bit better. And it worked. I suppose that’s what I’m most proud of. Changing definitions might not seem like much. “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me”…right? They might not ‘hurt you’ but they can halt the progression of equality on many levels. How we talk matters and often words and their meanings do not evolve as quickly as attitude. Words have connotations and using the wrong words, even flippantly, can halt the progress of change. In any given day we regularly hear words that are laced with negative connotation. Whilst we’ve made leaps and bounds in sexual equality, “that’s gay” and “queer” is still a term used to describe things we don’t think are good. “Pussy” is still a word equated with weakness, and despite making progress in disability rights and treatment, “Lame” is still tossed around schoolyards and workplaces everywhere to mean “uncool” and “unappealing.” As an industry that believes in the power words have in shaping perceptions and attitudes, surely we should be advocating that the language we use reflects the world we want to see? Whilst we can’t shape the law, we can, and should, strive to shape culture.
Do you ever feel invisible at work and if so, how do you make yourself more visible?
Short answer? Yes. Of course, I do. Or at least, I did. For women in advertising, the ‘invisible’ feeling is mutual. That’s why we’re all here, on platforms like this one, isn’t it? inVisible exists because we want to change things. We’re tired of feeling this way. And we’re tired because…well, being invisible is pretty damn tiring. It’s tiring being overlooked and watching our male-equivalents get promoted. It’s tiring wondering why we weren’t. It’s tiring wondering why an idea is rejected when you present it but accepted when a male team presents it. It’s tiring repeating to ourselves, “just keeping working hard, they’ll notice. Our time will come”. It’s tiring overcompensating, giving every job 200%, meticulously ensuring ideas are bulletproof, 100% ready and error-free prior to presenting them. It’s tiring padding our every conversation and email with relentless positivity. It’s tiring being on the outside, looking in. And it’s tiring feeling like we don’t belong or deserve to be in the room. I remember, back when I was starting out, a male creative said to me, “female creatives don’t have good ideas. I’ve seen the way they work and listened to them brainstorm. They’re just wired differently.” I was so shocked and disempowered at the time, I didn’t say anything. I just nodded, meekly. Six years on, I’m still kicking myself for not standing up for creative-woman-kind. Back then I didn’t know any better. I wouldn’t stand for that now. Because I know for sure, it’s simply not true. We deserve to be in the room. And we deserve to feel seen and heard. Not just because “equality”, but because we have so much to offer. We have a unique perspective, sophisticated insights, sick, sweet and twisted minds. Well, the latter might just be me – but the rest is true nonetheless. I’m so lucky to have found my people and place at BMF. And I’m proud to report I don’t feel invisible anymore.
Who do you admire in the industry and why?
I’m going to get all corny on you and say, my creative partner, Emily Field. And the whole damn BMF, Sydney crew. Creative monogamy isn’t for everyone. Some creatives like to have many partners. Some like to freelance around the place. You know, to keep things interesting. And some wake up one morning and decide they’re moving to Tasmania to become a Marine Biologist/incredible illustrator/tattooist…love you @Lucyisshit. But ask most creatives, after a tipple or two, and I bet they’ll admit to searching for the one: a partner, people and place that feels like home. The ever-elusive trifecta. It’s hard to find. Some never find it (which is why we should start a Tinder for creative partners…but we can talk more about that later). So, when taking a chance on a new agency and a new partner, the optimist in me was cautiously realistic. I thought: Yes, BMF is a motley crew of weirdos and misfits, like me. Yes, they’re lovely and without ego. Yes, they prioritise great ideas. Yes, I get to work on a broad spectrum of comedic, entertaining, meaningful and interesting clients. Yes, I get to collaborate with, learn from and be mentored by talented humans (no sucking-up intended). Yes, Emily Field does seem like my perfect match in every way (including awkwardness). Yes, we have fun coming up with and presenting ideas. Yes, these people and this place feels like home… But this is all probably too good to be true, right? Surely, the rose-coloured glasses will come off or go out of fashion soon… Right on cue, the shit hit the proverbial fan: A Black Summer bushfire season, smoke hazes, volcano eruptions, Covid-19, isolation, racism, rising death tolls, crazy-working-at-all-hours pitches, domestic violence, shootings, police violence, protests, a movement, an ex-tv show/dictator president and the threat of a recession or Great Depression or economic collapse or something to that effect. If anything could put a new job and partnership to the test, it would be 2020. So, I hope it means something when I say that, despite all this, Emily Field and BMF are the best decision I’ve ever made. Emily is an insights, ideas, and creative genius with an outstanding sense of humour – if I do say so myself. She’s the only person who works as hard as or is as awkward as me. And I once tried to shake a man’s hand through the gap between the front seat and the back seat of a car. No, not through the middle. Through the seatbelt side. So, think about that. We can talk, every day, sometimes for 19 hours straight, without killing each other. The yin to my yang. She wears the white linen pants in the relationship. I wear the black leather jacket or bright-green fur coat. Depending on the mood. So far this year, we’ve made a children’s book for postnatal depression, a domestic violence campaign to combat rising rates of violence during lock-down and, we’ve got a few more big campaigns for some other clients coming up soon. Together, we make one hell of a sickly, sweet and twisted team. I’m not ashamed to say, I look up to Emily Field. Disgustingly sincere, I know. You may take 5 to brush your teeth if you just threw up a bit. The past 10 months have gone by like a souped-up Audi Q7 with holes in the exhaust, doing 100kmph in a school zone, driven by rich twenty-something – yet to realise their own mortality. But, unlike that driver, my time at BMF has stood out for all the right reasons. And (hopefully) pissed off no one. And, unlike that driver, I used to think there was a limit to how fast and far I could go in this industry. But I’ve been both inspired and impressed by the female leaders at BMF. Not to mention the way Senior management diligently raises up the talented females in their departments. It’s been a great year for personal development. A lot of which can be put down to the opportunities, trust, encouragement and mentoring we’ve received. It’s been a proverbial melting pot for us to hone our skills, taste, creativity and take the next step up.
What do you love about your job?
Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. There’s nothing more powerful, exciting or fulfilling. For me, it’s as simple as that. And on that note, I must awkwardly bid you good day or evening. Location depending. Thank you, inVisible Creatives for making me visible. It’s been a pleasure, treasures. Eat, drink and be cleanly!