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Originally published September 16, 2013 at 8:04 PM | Page modified September 17, 2013 at 5:40 PM

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Corrected version

The glass ceiling and the corner office in the ad world

At the 3% Conference, advertising professionals gather to discuss the dearth of women in creative-director jobs; Seattle’s Babeland celebrates 20 years of sex-positivity; where to get your “Breaking Bad” trivia fix.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Sure, Peggy Olson might be doing just fine in the ad game on “Mad Men,” but 45 years later, are there more just like her? Where are all the Donna Drapers?

That was the question bandied about by a group of panelists and a crowd of mostly female creative types, who gathered at the downtown Seattle offices of the POSSIBLE agency the other night for food and cocktails.

Drinks were a good thing, considering what Palo Alto ad executive Kat Gordon was about to tell them:

Women may hold 85 percent of the buying power in American households, but make up only 3 percent of creative leadership. In fact, most female creative directors have never met another one. (Hence, the name of Gordon’s 3% Conference, aimed at turning things around.)

So mostly men are selling to mostly women — and that number hasn’t budged in 30 years. (Bartender!)

Makes no sense, Gordon said, considering women are the bigger users of Internet shopping and social media.

Gordon brought her road show to Seattle at the invitation of POSSIBLE President Martha Hiefield , who keeps a near-even ratio of men and women employees.

“We’re trying to reach customers and clients in a meaningful way,” she said.

Hiefield gets a lot of support from POSSIBLE CEO Shane Atchison; in fact, she was his very first hire when he started the company 15 years ago.

“Gender wasn’t even a question,” he said. “She brings an empathy and a balance and asks questions that make me step back.”

The panel, moderated by Lindy West of Jezebel, was made up of Danielle Trivisonno Hawley and Ray Page, both creative directors at POSSIBLE; Mary Knight, the executive creative director at Hydrogen; and Cal McAllister , co-founder and CEO of the Wexley School for Girls. He doesn't just hire females, he named his agency after them.

“We’re the kind of place that picks the right talent for the right job at the right time,” McAllister said. “And thankfully, for us, that’s mostly women in the creative department. We look at the portfolio, not the name.”

So simple. So why so hard?

Toy story

Speaking of women in business, here’s to the 20th anniversary of Babeland, that place you drive past and always want to go into, or where you’ve been twice, or where your card has been punched more times than you’ll ever admit. (I won’t tell you which category I fall into).

To celebrate, the women-owned sex-toy shop on Capitol Hill is hosting a big party at 7 p.m. Thursday. Co-founders Rachel Venningand Claire Cavanahwill be there, along with “local sexlebrities,” according to company spokeswoman Pamela Doan. (Your guess is as good as mine).

They’ve also rolled back ticket prices on their popular, two-hour workshops (look them up at to 1993 prices, from $35 to $10.

But wait! There’s more! Every day in September, the store is giving away a prize from its Babeland’s Best Collection. Today’s prize, you ask? Well, it’s the Club Vibe 2.0, which, according to associate Shannon Solie, is a “wireless, remote-controlled vibrator that works off the ambience in the room. Music, voices, whatever is going on around it.”

I’d stay far away from CenturyLink with one of those. You might hurt yourself.

This will end badly

Oh, calm down. I have all kinds of respect for the “Breaking Bad” canon and wouldn’t think of printing a spoiler alert.

But everyone knows that if you’re going to get through the AMC show’s end, you’re going to need to be around people.

So why not to attend “Los Geek Hermanos: A Breaking Bad Quiz” trivia night at 9 p.m. Sept. 25, at the Rock Bottom restaurant in Bellevue?

The event is being put on by a company called “Geeks Who Drink” that has created similar, themed events for fans of “Game of Thrones” and “Arrested Development.”

No word on whether there will be a special blue cocktail or Heisenberg look-alike contest. No word on anything, actually, which is fine to this spoiler-sensitive crowd.

But consider this: The series finale will air four days after the trivia event. Might be just the place to find a finale buddy to watch what happens to Walter White.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or

Information in this article, originally published September 16, 2013, was corrected September 17, 2013. A previous version of this story misspelled Shane Atchison’s name.

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