POSE&FOCUS: WOMEN IN ADVERTISING - KAREN ABRAM
Today marks history as we launch volume 3 of Pose & Focus: Women in Advertising! For this volume I took it back outside to highlight what summer time in Los Angeles is all about...sun, sand, tans and beach hats! For this shoot I was lucky enough to once again work with a creative team, so special thanks to Brenna and Maritza for supporting this passion project of mine. This collection is called Sun-kissed Beauties, so without further ado lets get to our first highlight!
If you want to learn a little something about work life balance and work ethic, there is no better person to learn from than Karen. While most of us claim to have worked at a young age - which usually consisted of a lemonade stand or selling candy bars at football games - Karen has us all beat. At the age of 13 she was a writer for a major publication in Los Angeles and wrote for them for 3 years! Now she holds a leadership title working on major entertainment brands. I am so happy to announce our first highlight for Pose & Focus Volume 3, Karen Abram!
For those that are not familiar with the industry, please provide a description of what you do. My team and I help studios understand how much to spend to promote movies available for rental/purchase on demand and how much to expect in revenue from that spend.
How did you first become interested in advertising? I’ve always been a curious person and used to tack magazine ads onto my walls as a kid, so I’m not sure when the EXACT moment was, but I do vividly remember my first tour of an advertising agency. It was at Chiat Day when I was 20 and I left on a mission to figure out how to work there.
What is one unexpected expectation/duty of your job that most wouldn’t know? When people hear that I work with studios they automatically think it’s a sexy, creative, artistic position. It’s actually a dry, analytical, tactical role that involves data modeling and trend assessment.
What are the top pressures in your position? By the time a movie reaches the on demand rental window it has already had a Theatrical debut and a DVD campaign. The on demand rental phase is the last rung in a ladder of revenue opportunities. There are no second chance campaigns if we don’t hit our revenue goal.
What personal traits do you contribute to your success? I put a lot of pressure on myself to deliver, to present a standard and to hold myself to it. I think I expect more from myself than others do because I know what I’m capable of and as much as I want to please everyone else – I don’t want to disappoint myself either. My accountability and drive to see what I’m personally capable of contributes to my success (and headaches).
Any big success stories that stand out the most when looking back at your career journey thus far? It probably wouldn’t have been a big deal to others, but being named “The Most Curious” employee years ago when I worked at UM was a big deal to me. It’s not a title that earned industry recognition nor one that I would add to my resume but, for me, it reinforced the value of bringing curiosity to analytics to best media plan.
What was your professional highlight within the last year? My highlight for the year is witnessing our clients' trust and satisfaction with our services. This includes pitching new studios, showcasing our planning process, watching them try it, get excited about it and seeing it work for them.
What was your first gig in the industry and what were the steps you took to get hired? I’ve worked in a corporate environment since I was 13. At 13, I wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News for 3 years. I then went on to write for other publications, then spent a few years as an Affiliate Marketing Manager before diving into the world of advertising agencies for the last 12 years. The best advice I could give someone looking to get hired is to tell them to remember that you are hiring them as much as they are hiring you. If this is going to be the place you spend the next 1, 5, 10 years of your life it should be a worthwhile experience for all – yourself included. Know the company, know the people but most importantly, know yourself. “YOU” should be the subject you are best versed in. If you can’t sell yourself, you are not going to be successful at selling an idea, a plan, a product, etc. Have a solid resume that clearly and succinctly notes your strengths. Use your network to advocate for you. A former colleague will pass your resume along with a much more powerful recommendation than that friend of a friend of a friend that happens to work at the company.
What advice would you give women who are thinking of working in the industry? Jump in. It’s a fast-paced industry and constantly evolving. My advice would be to keep your skin thick and your ego thin. As a woman with 2 small kids, I choose to take this rollercoaster ride because I find the work intellectually gratifying. The industry has it’s up and down moments but seeing our campaigns in action and the results from our planning is the greatest thrill.
What has changed in the industry from when you first started out? Is this change good or bad? There is more synergy between data. When I started, there were datasets to help understand a household’s habits but it was incredibly difficult to marry multiples sets. Now, you can blend multiple sets of data between TV, digital, credit card and even medical files to best understand and talk to your target audience.
When starting out, any mistakes you learned from that you would like to share? I didn’t ask a lot of questions “in the moment” at meetings when I started. I was nervous that it might give the impression that I didn’t understand or wasn’t paying attention. I learned that by holding my questions in, I was actually giving the impression that I wasn’t interested or following the conversation. A past boss gave me a great line that I frequently remind myself, “It’s okay to ask the same question a dozen times. Asking it multiple times is less a reflection on your ability to remember/understand and more of a reflection on how well the person answering the question is articulating the answer.”
How do you manage a healthy routine between personal and work responsibilities? By being present for the moment’s needs. I’m a huge believer in work/life balance and don’t apologize for taking time for myself. If I’m not at my best, neither will my quality of work. I think it’s important to give 100% during work hours and 100% to your personal self after work hours. My phone is glued to me during the day and my team knows that I’ll stop what I’m doing to help answer their questions. My kids also know that once I pick them up, the phone is away.
In moments of self-doubt, how do you pick up and keep moving forward? Ice cream. Kidding…sort of. When I have a hard day, have a hard time pushing myself or just doubting myself, I pause and run. A quick 10 minute all-out run during lunch or after work to push through the fog usually puts me in a better headspace.
With just three adjectives, describe yourself. Analytical, curious and motivated.
What is one interesting thing about you that most people don’t know? I’m very sensitive. I have a very confident and tough presence but very thin skin when it comes to criticism.
What does the word “success“ mean to you? “Success” feels like such a final term. It feels like an ending. In that sense, I feel so far from it. On the other hand, “succeeding” to me means fullness with balance. As I push for “success” I feel like I’m succeeding down the road by packing each day with meaning and ending each day happily exhausted.
Do you think success comes from luck or skill? A little of both. You can only get so far without skill. But, you have to be lucky to have the right resources, mentors and opportunities to help build this skill.
What are your go to resources for inspiration? I love NPR’s “How I Built This” podcast. I love hearing the process and inspiration behind different businesses and ideas. My favorite to date is Airbnb. They talked about funding their company by selling custom-made, exclusive politically-themed cereal boxes. It’s that out of the box thinking (no pun intended) that encourages me to be more creative in my thinking.
In this industry we have a lot of exposure to great restaurants. What is your #1 recommended restaurant in Los Angeles right now? And what menu items are a must? I’m a West Valley resident and can’t seem to get enough of Local Peasant. Their deviled eggs appetizer and the St. Germaine cocktail are must-orders.
What is one thing in Los Angeles you have been dying to do/try? That’s hard. I’m a pretty big “you only live once” believer and if I want to do it – I plan it out and get it done. Visiting Terranea, feeding the giraffes at the Malibu Wine Safari and dining at Inn of the Seventh Ray are all high on my list of things I want to do this year.
Los Angeles Rapid Fire Qs: Top Pick
- The Grove or Americana? The Grove
- K-ZO or SugarFish? SugarFish
- Santa Monica Pier or LA Arts District? Neither, i’m a West Valley girl, so I’ll go with The Village
- UCLA or USC? UCLA *insert 8-clap*
- 405 or the 101? 101
- Fast Track or Carpool? Carpool
- Lakers or Clippers? Not a Basketball fan – but Go Dodgers!
- Disneyland or Universal Studios? Disneyland
Thank you for your support in reading this post! As many of you know now, Pose&Focus: Women in Advertising is my personal passion project dedicated to highlights women in the advertising industry through interviews and creative expression. Having been in the business myself for over a decade, I found it very important for women (and men) to support female leadership in our community & industry. Especially with our current climate this mission is more important to me than ever before. I want our female readers to know when they come here they will get solid advice and actionable steps that they can use to elevate their own careers. To learn more about upcoming posts follow me on Instagram or Linkedin for the latest news.