MediaCat, Ad Age Toast Women to Watch Turkey in Istanbul

Entrepreneurial Leaders in Marketing, Media, Advertising and Popular Culture Are Honored

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2015 Women to Watch Turkey honorees
2015 Women to Watch Turkey honorees Credit: İstavrit Görsel Çözümler

The third annual Ad Age's Women to Watch Turkey event in Istanbul celebrating 14 outstanding women in marketing, media, advertising and popular culture was a day-long event from lunch through cocktails, including several panels featuring current and past honorees and even a fashion show.

Women to Watch Turkey, held this year at the Raffles Hotel Istanbul, is done in Turkey in partnership with Ad Age's editorial partner, leading trade publication MediaCat, part of Kapital Media.

One panel was devoted to the initiative that won Turkey's first-ever Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year. Vodafone's "Red Light Application/Between Us" seeks to make the world a safer place for women—about one-third of whom are subject to domestic abuse in Turkey—with a mobile app that lets the user send a call for help to three contacts with a simple shake of her phone. And because the app's existence had to be hidden from abusers, it was introduced through women-targeted content such as a beauty tutorial from a well-known blogger.

One of this year's honorees, Ayse Aydin, creative director, Team Red, is the creative behind the Grand Prix winner. Team Red, part of Y&R Istanbul, works only on Vodafone. (The Vodafone client was a previous Women to Watch Turkey honoree).

Also on the creative side, designer Dilek Hanif started exporting her luxury women's fashion collections to the U.S. and Europe last year. And comedy actress-screenwriter Gupse Ozay last year become the first woman to both write and star in a major movie, Deliha, creating her own character and inspiring women to seek opportunities in Turkey's film industry.

Half the honorees are from marketers, including fields where women are rare. Leading package goods marketer Deniz Akturk Erdem in May walked away from a promotion to a regional role three months earlier at PepsiCo Beverages to join one of Turkey's major industrial groups, Eczacibasi Building Products, as VP marketing.

And Perihan Inci is chairwoman of automotive supplier group Inci Holding, where she is known for helping to develop an effective branding story for Inci Aku car batteries, a difficult category to create a compelling brand. She also spearheaded a policy to increase the number of female executives to 32% of the team at Inci Holding's heavy industries manufacturing.

Bengi Vargul is corporate communications director of Turkish airport operations giant TAV, which oversees airports in Turkey and other countries including Croatia, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia. Ms. Vargul has built a centralized corporate communications operation that deals with highly diverse cultures in a business where crises are frequent.

Ruken Mizrakli is a founding partner and VP of Gunduz Group, and involved with creating global brands for leather products.

Aysegul Ildeniz is VP of the new devices group at Intel, responsible for developing Intel's road map for wearables and the Internet of Things.

Zuhal Seker is chief communication officer at Yildiz Holding, and the architect of that food products group's communications plans for integrating global acquisitions like United Biscuits.

On the media side, Birim Gonulsen Ozyurekli, marketing director and a member of the board at Turkish newspaper Hurriyet since 2013, is creating sub-brands and managing successful campaigns like the interactive freedom of expression platform "Hurriyet Benim." Seda Domanic is president of publishing group Dogus Media and entered the fashion world when she launched Vogue Turkey, where she is editor-in-chief, for Dogus. Ece Uner is a top TV news anchor.

From the agency world, Burcu Ozdemir Kayimtu is managing director of leading agency TBWA Istanbul.

In Turkey, Women to Watch also includes an honorary lifetime achievement award, given this year to Nazli Umit Boyner, a member of the board of directors of retailer Boyner Group. Ms. Boyner, who founded Turkey's female entrepreneur's association, is known for her support for gender equality and female entrepreneurship, both in business and in economically underprivileged regions of Turkey.

"Gender equality is not a matter concerning women, but a matter of democracy," she said.

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