Ad Her Adds a Voice to Chicago Advertising

from guest blogger Katie Palmer

Trailblazers and change makers are what Chicago advertising needs. This statement was the powerful theme Renetta McCann, Chief Talent Officer at Leo Burnett, focused on during her opening remarks at the Ad Her workshop on April 22nd, 2017.

 The Ad Her workshop, a collaboration of Cossette Chicago employees Katie Palmer and Julia Matthews, was created with the purpose of impacting young women and striving for positive change in the Chicago community through creativity, diversity, and inclusion.

Catalyst Ranch hosted the inaugural event where Female students of color from Lakeview High School came to work with mentors and re-create print ads that they felt misrepresented or failed to represent women of color. The students only had 6 hours to brainstorm, shoot, and create the new ads. The ads, displayed at a reception hosted by Cossette following the workshop, were then reviewed and voted on by the guests and judges. The winning team was given scholarships to attend the University of Illinois media camp this summer.

The re-created ads changed the narrative, and the impact was more then both organizers could have imagined. “The talent, drive, and awareness of the students amaze me. I cannot believe the quality of the work and the beautiful narratives created.” Co-creator Palmer stated. “We are so excited to introduce young women to the career opportunities available to them in advertising. Julia and I set out to spark interest in the field, and I believe the workshop and the mentors did just that!”

The recreated ads and photos of the event can be viewed online at As the Ad Her Scholarship participants prepare for camp in July, organizers are still looking for support to aid in the transportation of the students to the summer program.



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Katie Palmer is the Officer Administrator for Cossette Chicago, a multi-function Marketing firm.

Ad Her aims to vest female minority students in the creative development of ads; giving them the tools and confidence needed to be successful. We hope that the success of the Ad Her will spark interest in the field of advertising, allowing us to continue the program and broaden our scope.