ZEENAT CHAUDHARY: What are the criteria required to make it to the Pitch 100 Superwomen list? SIDRA SALMAN: The Pitch 100 Superwomen list was an initiative taken in 2017 by Sherry Collins, founder of Pitch Fanzine, a movement that started in 2015 to "challenge the inequality, discrimination and lack of diversity in the creative industries, while simultaneously showcasing outstanding, contemporary talent in Pitch magazine."
People across the creative fields are part of the list; for example, animators, artists, brand founders, illustrators and photographers. However, in 2020 the list was a little different as men (under the category Supermen) from the creative fields were added. Pitch Superwomen and Supermen are nominated by their advertising and creative peers under the banner of a super person who gets things done. It is a nomination, yes, but it is not simply about submitting a name, as people have to write detailed recommendations for their nominee. Apart from being nominated, I nominated my colleague Hasnain Hukumdad, Group Head Strategy, Synite, as a Superman. Although the subject of women empowerment is close to my heart, I feel that when it comes to diversity and the fact that the Superman category was a new one, I should support a man as well.
ZC: Who are the other winners from Pakistan, and which of them are you most inspired by? SS: Hira Mohibullah (ECD, BBDO Pakistan) and Fatima Ansari (Senior Creative Manager, BBDO Pakistan) are also on the list this year and I am most inspired by Hira because she has worked really hard and done beautiful work in the past that has created a name for Pakistan internationally. Winning an award gets Pakistan recognised on the global map and hence I am glad that I have made it to the list with her. I am inspired by her dedication and the way she balances her work and personal life. Also, as she is also a See It Be It alumni, I can relate to her more. More women should come forward and be a part of such initiatives.
ZC: How do you feel about receiving this honour? SS: Extremely humbled and proud that Pakistani women are coming forward and in the advertising fraternity as well. It is imperative that we make a name from a global point of view. It is time we work in collaboration with international creatives. I feel proud to be a part of such an initiative.
ZC: What makes your work stand out? SS: My focus has always been on good insights. Once we crack a good insight and it hits the right note, that is it. Whether it is storytelling, a print ad or anything in film or on Facebook, it should hit the mark and people should be able to relate to it. Only then does your work stand out.
ZC: How are you (and Synite) different from others in the region in terms of the creative process you go through? SS: For me, it is very important that at Synite I was able to create a system where everyone is responsible for their own work and can take ownership of it without fear of being judged. There are no nonsensical layers (ECD, Chief Creative Officer and so on.) and there should not be any. With layers comes fear. Creatives should work fearlessly and only then will they come up with brilliant ideas and amazing insights.
ZC: Which campaign(s) are you most proud of and why? SS: One is Standard Chartered Women in Tech. SCB wanted to kickstart an initiative to support Pakistani female entrepreneurs in tech (only one percent of women in Pakistan are entrepreneurs). Once we started working on the campaign we realised that people do not take Pakistani women seriously, so given the limited number of female entrepreneurs and the fact that they face such discouraging attitudes from their families and others, we made an analogy that a girl’s life is like a startup. The difficulties a startup goes through are the same for a woman. This was a successful campaign and one I am immensely proud of. Another campaign was Blurfie, where we worked on clearing up misconceptions about Multiple Sclerosis (MS), a disease which is thought of as taboo. On World MS Day, we launched Blurfie, a campaign that asked people to take a blurred selfie of themselves; this came from the idea about how a MS patient would take a selfie.
ZC: What are you aiming for next? SS: There is a long journey ahead. I only aim for good work; good work takes you places and wins you awards.
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