When Kim Gehrig was recruited last year to shoot a spot for British organization Sport England encouraging women to overcome their fear of being judged while exercising (the top reason women are less active than men in the U.K.), she knew she wanted to cast real women, not models. An ad agency vet who directs music videos and commercials for brands like Coca-Cola and Ikea, she visited sports clubs, football fields, and even Zumba classes to capture the unairbrushed women who’d eventually star in her electric 90-second “This Girl Can” spot that honors the many ways women sweat–set to the contagious beat of Missy Elliot’s “Get Ur Freak On.” The campaign, which included 15 minifilms, was not only nominated for more than a dozen awards, it represents Gehrig’s ideal of what advertising can do: “Find a truth and bring a gentle wit to it,” she says.
Where or how do you seek out creative inspiration?
For me I think inspiration is cumulative–years of watching films, seeing shows and exhibitions, traveling, talking, reading, the news (I am obsessed with the news)–all sitting in the various corners of my brain waiting to be tapped into. I draw on all those things as well as take inspiration from the people that surround me, my friends and people I work with, especially my editor Tom, who is a guiding voice.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Read the Australian papers online. Reminds me of home.
What is one thing about your job that you think would surprise people?
It’s fun, even though it is intensely stressful and a lot of work. With the right people it is a laugh.
What are some things you do to refresh your mind when you’re in a rut?
Swim. Looking at the tiles on the bottom brings all the ideas out.
Who outside of your field inspires you the most and why?
Stella McCartney. She has four children and manages to have an incredible and relevant business while being a great mum. That’s remarkable, and it’s all done with such elegance.