International Women's Day 2017 in Advertising

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This year, there has been decidedly more attention cast on International Women's Day, which is important, as, even in these enlightened times, many women across the world are still being made to feel as if they are somehow 'less than' their male counterparts. This is a sad fact underlined by the recent, completely undeserved furore surrounding the actor, UN women goodwill ambassador and famously pro-feminist Emma Watson, and her perfectly innocuous decision to front a photoshoot for a fashion magazine wearing a slightly revealing shirt. The ludicrous cries of hypocrisy should have fallen on deaf ears, but alas, we're living in a world where we have a noted misogynist and boastful sex offender in place as the most powerful person on the planet. So. Sigh.

Hoping to engender a little hope and perspective on the situation, however, adland has taken it upon itself this year to rally behind the cause, with many agencies and brands standing behind women in a variety of campaigns and activations, from the very big to the very small. Many of these campaigns are truly benevolent and inspiring, whilst others are simply well intentioned and some could just be accused of shamelessly jumping on the gender equality bandwagon. Whatever the case, it's genuinely comforting to see adland actually giving a shit, and here I've collected a few of my favourites to help, in my own small way, to spread the goodwill and keep the conversation about gender equality in the public consciousness. If there are any you feel I've missed out, feel free to enlighten me in the comments.


Publicis London and Massive Music use music to get the message across with Joss Stone

UBS has launched a global campaign by Publicis London highlighting its efforts around women and diversity initiatives, with a new international wave of its brand campaign focusing on women. Harnessing the power of music to enforce the message, the campaign features a version of “Free Me” by British soul singer Joss Stone, re-recorded exclusively for the campaign by MassiveMusic. Stylistically, the film expands on the financial services company’s overall brand campaign, “Life’s Questions,” which launched in 2016. This latest campaign follows on from the launch of UBS’ new sonic branding in 2015, which MassiveMusic helped to craft. This time, the team at MassiveMusic was presented with the brief to find a track that creates the right emotional context for the questions asked in the film, as well as being in line with the sonic identity of the brand. The MassiveMusic team settled on re-interpreting the Joss Stone track, which has been released on iTunes and Spotify this week. The track, which Stone wrote, fulfils several key elements of the brief as a track sung by a woman who has spoken out on the subject of gender equality, while the positive spirit of the track resonates with the campaign’s empowering message.

Moos Lamerus, Senior Producer at MassiveMusic, said: “This was one of those opportunities where we could showcase the true strength and breadth of everything we do as a full-service music agency – from song search and artist handling to music production. Working on this project with UBS and Joss Stone was a 360-degree immersive experience which gave us free rein to live up to our full potential.” Joss Stone, added: “The guys at MassiveMusic really did their homework! I am pleasantly surprised when people are aware of the real intention of my songs. When they suggested my track for this story it felt like nothing but sweet serendipity to me – a perfect fit.”


Wunderman promote the Power to Spend

Kicking off International Women’s Day with a steel-toe-capped boot to the face of inequality, three women in the creative industry have launched a fundraising initiative called The Power Spend. The simple, effective initiative asks women to turn their usual outgoings this International Women's Day into donations to three progressive women’s charities instead (click HERE to make your own donation). The initiative has been started by Charlotte Khushi (art director), Lucy Eldridge (copywriter) and Sophie Williams (creative producer); three feminists (pictured below) working in advertising at Wunderman UK. The trio are aiming to lead from the front, confronting inequality and asking the same from everyone else. The Power Spend wants women to spend differently. Rather than parting with cash for a daily coffee, fancy lunch or new clothes, the Power Spend is asking everyone to donate that spare money to the fundraising page here. 100% of the money raised will provide vital support for three charities, Refuge and Rosa Fund in the UK and the National Organisation for Women in the US.


Commenting on the launch of the initiative, Charlotte Khushi said: “Women drive up to 80% of all spending. We want everyone to flex that power on March 8th: International Women’s Day and turn their usual weekday outgoings into donations for progressive women’s charities.” Sophie Williams continues: “Our mission is to show women the power that they already hold, and give them an impactful way to use that power for the betterment of women and girls around the world. When they have a chance to thrive, the whole of society will feel the benefits. We want to help women to help themselves and each other by making tiny changes and choices that will have a huge impact.” Lucy Eldridge adds: “With regressive policies threatening to drag us back to the 1950s, we need to flex the power that we fought for in the only language the leaders of the world understand. Money. Even if you’re strapped for cash, that doesn’t mean you can’t get involved, champion this campaign and use the power of social media to encourage your friends and family to give to this worthy cause.” Pip Hulbert, COO at Wunderman concludes: “We encourage everyone at Wunderman to focus not just on work but on what matters to them; it’s about building a culture where people are celebrated for bringing their whole self to work. As part of this approach, entrepreneurialism plays a key role and it’s so inspiring to see three brilliant women putting their creative talent to work to make a difference on International Women’s Day.”


360i show solidarity with women who can't afford to take the day off


In an initiative not too dissimilar from the Power Spend, the organisers behind January’s successful Women’s March are honouring International Women’s Day by asking women around the world to take the day off from paid and unpaid labor. “A Day Without a Woman” is a protest to show the enormous socioeconomic impact that women have on the world despite being subject to things like lower wages, discrimination and sexual harassment. However, the event has been on the receiving end of criticism in recent days since many are saying it unfairly favours privileged women who can afford to take a day off of work. In response to the criticism, a pair of female creatives at digital agency 360i have created an initiative called “#EqualVoices” to show solidarity with women who can’t afford to, or are unable to participate in the strike. Women who cannot participate can go to the #EqualVoices website to fill out their names and reasons why they can’t take part in the protest; on March 8, 360i staffers participating in “A Day Without a Woman” activities will carry signs that bear the names of these women.


To their credit, the organisers of “A Day Without a Woman” have offered up other ways for women to show their support of the protest that don’t involve taking time off of work. Women who want to participate can also wear red on March 8 and avoid shopping that day (with the exception of small, women and minority owned businesses). On the Women’s March website, the issue of whether or not the event caters to the privileged is addressed in an FAQ section where the organisers explain why they believe privileged women and allies should leverage their resources for good.


Omnicom's Omniwomen celebrates by unveiling new global chapters


Omniwomen, a global organisation within Omnicom dedicated to championing the number and influence of female talent within the company, is accelerating its global expansion with four new chapter openings in Canada, France, Germany and the United Arab Emirates on International Women’s Day (IWD). The addition of these new countries brings the total number of Omniwomen regional chapters to over 10. On International Women’s Day (IWD), Omniwomen around the world will come together to celebrate the professional and personal achievements of women within the Omnicom family, and reflect on progress made. Omniwomen across Canada will gather in Toronto to kick off and initiate the new chapter; Omniwomen Germany is hosting an upwards of 150 clients and employees at their launch event in Berlin; OmniwomenUAE will launch on March 8th with an event to announce the UAE chapter; and in London, Omniwomen UK will host its third annual Leadership Summit with nearly 200 guests including internal and external speakers. In honour of 2017’s IWD theme #BeBoldForChange, Omniwomen have also challenged the women of Omnicom to share what bold action they would take to help drive gender parity and inclusiveness. Over a hundred employees from around the world participated in the initiative.


Janet Riccio, Omniwomen Founder and Dean of Omnicom University, said: “We launched Omniwomen less than three years ago and it amazes me to see the groundswell of support to increase the number of senior women within our organisation around the globe. We are fortunate to have the most talented women in our industry and it’s so inspiring to see their creativity and passion to effect change on International Women’s Day and throughout the year.” Tiffany R. Warren, SVP and Chief Diversity Officer at Omnicom, added: “Diversity has to be part of a company’s DNA if you are going to be successful long-term. At Omnicom, our commitment starts from the top and, while we still have a ways to go, workplace equality is a priority for our business,. As a member of Omniwomen, I’m proud to support their mission to address mind-sets and develop a more inclusive, holistic diversity agenda for Omnicom and our industry.”


Getty Images and Jaguar Land Rover create realistic portrayal of women in engineering


Jaguar Land Rover and Getty Images have announced a partnership on International Women’s Day, to highlight the need for a more realistic visual representation of female engineers. More people than ever are searching images of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers, yet results are often out-dated and don’t reflect today’s exciting and varied roles. This partnership aims to change that. Pictures released today by Jaguar Land Rover and Getty Images show women in a variety of STEM roles from aerodynamics to cyber and audio engineering. They are intended to encourage more women to apply for these jobs by accurately portraying the modern workplace. New data released today by Getty Images shows that web traffic for imagery showing women in engineering careers is significantly increasing. The number of people searching “women + STEM” imagery has risen by 526% in the past year alone. The Jaguar Land Rover and Getty Images collaboration sees a set of images available today for editorial use, as the partners work towards building a body of imagery, which authentically depicts female engineers at work. Jaguar Land Rover has also called for other leading manufacturers to follow suit by reassessing and updating their visual portrayal of women in STEM careers, in a bid to increase the number of women applying for STEM jobs.


Fiona Pargeter, Jaguar Land Rover Global PR Communications Director, said: “We have always championed women in the car business and are committed to inspiring more girls and women to consider careers in engineering and manufacturing. Our female workforce has grown from 9 to 11 per cent over the past four years due to our focused STEM initiatives. But this is still far too low – businesses being proactive about using realistic imagery is one of the many ways that we can attract the bright minds we need into STEM careers.” Rebecca Swift, Director of Creative Insight at Getty Images, added: “We are a passionate advocate for the realistic representation of women through imagery and are proud to be leading the visual industry in the creation and promotion of powerful, relevant imagery which celebrates diversity and authenticity in every area of life. Over the last year we have seen a dramatic spike in interest for imagery showing female engineers at work. Images have the power to make and break gender clichés so the demand for these images is both indicative and important. We have an opportunity to change the visual language around STEM for the better, so we are excited to be partnering with Jaguar Land Rover who are also committed to expanding the availability of images representing the realities of a modern day engineering career for women.”


BETC app measures every time a man interrupts a woman

BETC Sao Paolo reckons it has a solution to men who constantly interrupt women in a business environment due to often unconscious misogyny. They call this a “Manteruption.” To combat this, they created the “Women Interrupted” app, which was reportedly inspired by president Donald Trump’s 51 interruptions of Hillary Clinton during the first presidential debate last year. The app, available on iOS and Android, is capable of tracking the frequencies of recorded voices, able to determine how many times voices, its algorithm deems female was cut short.


The agency has added that it will compile all the data of users to see how many times the average user was interrupted by male colleagues, in to aid female visibility in the workplace. Additionally, the agency, keen to mark International Women’s Day, asked female artists to create posters visualising these interruptions. Building upon this, a website was also created offering stats and stories around interruption. Gal Barradas, founder and co-chief executive of BETC Sao Paola, said: “It may seem like a small problem, but it reflects deeper issues of gender inequality at work and society. The app is a way of showing that, in fact, the interruption is real and alarming.”


McCann and Microsoft encourage girls to get into STEM

International Women's Day is not just about women, it's about girls, too, and Microsoft aims to build on its past outreach this year by encouraging more girls to study science, math, technology and engineering (STEM). To mark the day, the company launched its #MakeWhatsNext campaign to help inspire young girls to take the next step. The campaign will introduce new programs and resources to girls including a tool being launched by Microsoft and LinkedIn that demonstrates how girls can pursue their passions across industries and social causes. With only 6.7% of US women (and 16% of women globally) graduating college with STEM degrees girls need more encouragement at an even younger age. In the video (above), Microsoft asks girls about the problems they are most passionate about solving, and the girls share their concerns for the water supply, about breast cancer and the overall health of the environment. These smart and poised girls then get a look at science and their particular passions through AR and VR technology, and become somewhat humbled by the possibilities they see. The video conveys that although their excitement about changing the world has merit - much of it is not possible without STEM skills. The video aptly showcases both the natural curiosity and innate intelligence of the girls - illustrated best when they see how science can change their lives. The campaign, created by m:united//McCann, will span broadcast, online/digital, events and social media including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.


Wunderman BA create Google Chrome extension with No Gender Profile 


Professional equality seems to be quite far from us. Globally just 24% of CEOs are women and only 1 out of 4 with a degree have a job. Advertisement industry is no different. For International Women’s Day,  Wunderman BA, the agency headed by Dany Minaker and Patan Tarazaga, launched No Gender Profiles a digital tool that helps recruiters to perform searches using LinkedIn focusing exclusively on what really matters about a candidate: skills. No Gender Profiles is a free plugin extension for Google Chrome that works while using LinkedIn. It hides some candidate’s data such as name and gender so skills and capabilities can be appreciated without prejudice. Victoria Cole, Wunderman BA VP, said: “I’ve always wondered what women could do to help others. I strongly think this simple but powerful idea can collaborate towards hiring equality. We really want to lead by example.” Melisa Trench, HR Senior Manager, added: "We are the largest agency in Argentina these days. With over 450 people and a team composed 55% by women, gender equality is not just a claim to be repeated but a behaviour for us."


McCann’s ‘Fearless Girl’ Stares Down Wall Street’s Charging Bull


In honour of International Women’s Day, McCann NY has introduced "The Fearless Girl" – a statue of a daring young girl, standing strong in front of the bull on Wall Street. Why? Because companies with women in leadership perform better. The project was created in partnership with the agency’s client State Street Global AdvisorsKristen Visbal created the statue, with photography from Federica Valabrega. Ron O’Hanley, president and chief executive officer of SSGA, said: “We believe good corporate governance is a function of strong, effective and independent board leadership. A key contributor to effective independent board leadership is diversity of thought, which requires directors with different skills, backgrounds and expertise. Today, we are calling on companies to take concrete steps to increase gender diversity on their boards and have issued clear guidance to help them begin to take action.”


Serviceplan Group’s Major PR Campaign ‘Unveils the Truth'

To mark International Women’s Day, the news on the Indian TV channel NewsX was presented by a special presenter: a woman with a veiled face. The broadcast began with an account of several women who have been disfigured by acid attacks by their husbands in India. Next to the presenter sat a veiled co-host. Then the unveiling began: while the co-presenter gradually unveiled her face, it was clear that she herself was an acid victim. The featured NewsX presenter ended the news with information about the charity IPRAS WomenforWomen, which tries to alleviate women’s scars by means of plastic surgery, so that women like her can be helped, she calls on viewers to donate: “Together we can make a difference and heal India’s acid victims’ scars.” Along with this PR campaign by Serviceplan Group, there are numerous accompanying PR measures, which raise awareness of the campaign and its underlying cause: a panel discussion with various Indian opinion formers, posts on social-networking platforms, banner advertising on different websites and TV promotions. The idea is to shed some light on the fact that, in many parts of the world, women increasingly become victims of domestic violence and are brutally abused with fire or acid. These attacks disfigure women, expose them to extreme psychological stress and frequently lead to social isolation. In most cases, the perpetrators come from the husband’s family and the scene of these acts is often their own home. The motive: to low a dowry or disobedience. The trigger: family disputes over a woman’s desire for more independence or the right to work.


The Women’s Foundation and JWT Hong Kong tackle workplace sexism

Casual sexism still exists in the modern bustling metropolis of Hong Kong, even being baked into the local language where the phrase 事業線, or “Career Line,” is used to refer to a woman’s cleavage. The Women’s Foundation and J. Walter Thompson have collaborated on a campaign that challenges the phrase and aims to kickstart conversations around objectification and inequality in the workplace. The campaign also looks to celebrate talent and capabilities, the real career line of Hong Kong women. A website and online campaign promoting a fictional plastic surgery clinic called Career line was created, and coupled with a pop-up booth at Hong Kong University promoting the clinic’s services of enhancing a woman’s cleavage to stand out in the job market. The spoof was revealed on International Women’s Day, where the website was switched to #MyRealCareerLine campaign. Female icons in business, entertainment and sports, such as swimmer Stephanie Au, Freshfields China chairman Teresa Ko and student Daisy Ngai shared stories behind their ‘real career line’.


J. Walter Thompson’s Female Tribes research inspired the campaign, where 40% of respondents felt talked down to at work and 53% felt they lacked the same professional opportunities as men. Regular use of the phrase, career line, numbs people to it and diminishes a woman’s professional achievements. According to a recent survey by Edelman Intelligence, 62% of male and female respondents said the phrase was not derogatory or harmful. However, 40% said women in Hong Kong are routinely subject to inappropriate comments on their bodies in the office, and 62% of women felt discriminated based on their looks. Underscoring this point, one in four men between 31 to 40 years old, believed a woman’s success is based on physical appearance.


Burger King and Y&R create ‘Burger Queen’ campaign in China

Burger King launched its ‘Burger Queen’ campaign for International Women’s Day with Y&R Shanghai, looking to crown its own Burger Queen. Video interviews prompted by the question, “Can you be our Burger Queen?”, across China’s social media platforms has seen over 60 million views, with female respondents mostly doubting and questioning if they could be crowned. However, women were in for a surprise when they opened their burger boxes to find mirror topped with a crown and a message saying, “Every one of you is our Burger Queen.” Selected outlets have also been rebranded for International Women’s Day, with special surprise burger boxes available for 8 March 2017.


Provocative JWT Ads Show How Offensive the World Can Be with 25% Missing


To drive awareness and debate on International Women’s Day about how women are paid on average 25% less than men, J. Walter Thompson London has created a provocative outdoor campaign using clever word play to drive home just how offensive the world can seem with 25% missing. The ads will appear on more than 800 digital poster sites across the UK with media delivered for free by Maxus Global. Research from JWT's Female Tribes’ global Women’s Index study also shows that 53% of women felt they were paid less than men for the same job, and 53% felt it was harder to ask for a pay rise as a woman. J. Walter Thompson created Female Tribes to change the cultural narrative around women, and specifically to champion Female Capital - the value that women bring to the world as women. Rachel Pashley, creator of Female Tribes and Global Planner at J. Walter Thompson, said: “Removing 25% of anything can fundamentally change the meaning, and underpaying women confers an implicit or even explicit message to women as to how much they are valued in society.”


Every Girl Counts in Uplifting New Campaign from Bono's ONE Organisation

Globally, 130 million girls are not in school, and because poverty is sexist, girls in the poorest countries are less likely to receive an education than boys. This means a generation of adolescent girls are being denied the education they need to get a job, broaden their opportunities, and break the cycle of poverty. A girl with an education can change the world. To prove this, ONE launches #GirlsCount, a bold digital campaign to demonstrate the scale of the crisis and demand education for all girls. #GirlsCount features citizens from every walk of life joining forces by filming themselves counting a number between one and 130 million out loud. One film to represent every girl denied an education. International supporters are joining the count in solidarity, including: Malala Yousafzai, Sheryl Sandberg, Angelique Kidjo, Bono and David Oyelowo, as well as Emmanuelle Chriqui, Giselle Bundchen, Michael Sheen, Chelsea Handler and Charlize Theron. ONE plans to combine the videos into the world’s longest ever film to urge world leaders to take the action needed to ensure every girl receives a quality education. People who want help change the lives of millions of girls around the world can join the campaign by counting a number and posting the video or picture online here. The campaign was created by Droga5 New York. ONE launched the action ahead of International Women’s Day alongside a report that shows how getting more girls in school could save more than a million lives and add more than $100 billion dollars a year to the global economy. On International Women’s Day this year, thousands of ONE activists around the world took part in a global “walk-in” where they will hand-deliver a 330,000-signature open letter to their elected representatives calling for every girl to receive an education.


Charity Inspiring Girls Aims to #RedrawTheBalance

The charity Inspiring Girls International founded by Miriam Gonzalez launched a new campaign on International Women's Day about gender disparity and stereotyping affecting our children through childhood role models. This campaign builds upon last year’s campaign, #RedrawTheBalance, which shone a light on the fact that gender stereotypes form between 5-7 years of age. This year the campaign focuses on one of the key reinforcers of those stereotypes – the animation industry. The campaign, "It’s Time To Get Animated," exposes the gender bias in childhood cartoons where only 29% of all animated characters are women. These role models shape our children and ingrain gender stereotyping at a young age, as they watch and learn from Bob The Builder, Postman Pat alongside the few princesses or lovelorn females.


The pro-bono campaign has been made for Inspiring Girls International by leading creative agency MullenLowe London. The charity is dedicated to raising the aspirations of young girls around the world by connecting girls with female role models. To make a difference volunteers can sign up here and pledge just one hour per year to visit a school to talk to a group of girls about their life, career, ups and downs, choices and experiences in the work place and in life. At the centre of the campaign an online film, directed by Sophie Markatatos at Strange Beast, follows female animator Sophie Marka talking about how, in her industry, lead characters are still mostly men. Behind the scenes in the creative industry, only 20% of animators are female. MullenLowe London challenged this industry norm by building an almost entirely female team including the animator, four female illustrators, editor, director, sound designers, musicians and producers.


BBDO prove that Dogs Are Woman's Best Friend Too

On International Women’s Day, CESAR has launched "Woman’s Best Friend Too," a program that highlights the special bond between women and their dogs, and turns the age-old saying of ‘man’s best friend’ on its head. The new campaign, created by BBDO San Francisco, features a video showcasing real women and their canine best friends who stand by their side at all times. To support the campaign, the brand has teamed up with Elias Weiss Freidman, the photographer behind the popular website and New York Times bestselling book, The Dogist, to capture the real-life stories of 14 every day women, as well as actress Lucy Hale, to share her relationship with her dog.


TBWA\Chiat\Day Launches Support Local Female Entrepreneurs


This International Women's Day, TBWA\Chiat\Day LA and NY used their advertising skills to celebrate and promote small, local female-run businesses and entrepreneurs. "Her Business is Our Business" will run for the month of March. In line with international theme #BeBoldForChange, both agencies will partner with four small businesses located close to each office (some within walking distance), creating assets pro-bono and then promoting each brand for a week with a small media budget provided by the agency. Additionally, each brand will be supported by an all-female team across all departments including account, creative, strategy, planning and production. TBWA\Chiat\Day LA is partnering with Good Dirt LA (a community pottery studio), Heidi's Salsa (a brand that has grown from a farmers market stand to being in 1000 stores), G-Loves & Gelometrics (a company specializing in gloves and wrist supports for exercise) and Hotcakes Bakes, a bakery and specialist cake shop. TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, meanwhile, is partnering with businesses including Gigi's Doughnuts (specializing in dairy-free doughnuts), social enterprise start-up SUPERSMITH (a business run in a converted Red Hook warehouse, fully equipped for people to rent for woodworking and general furniture fabrication), athletic apparel company JUJA Active, and LOLA (a company delivering organic feminine care to your door).  The activation is part of TBWA's Take The Lead program, which aims to create a completely gender-balanced workplace. Launched in 2015, Take the Lead has a stated goal to increase women in leadership roles across the TBWA network by 20% by the year 2020. The initiative asks each TBWA office to activate initiatives locally to bring awareness, spark conversations and make concrete strides to support women in their agencies and communities.


Fiat 500 says thank-you to all women

Wishing well to women on the International Women’s Day is customary, but in 2017, Fiat opted for a shift in tradition. A video (above), which shows a 500 without all the innovations that are the fruit of female ingenuity, was created together with the Leo Burnett Italia agency and went live on the Fiat 500 Facebook pageand on the official YouTube page of Fiat Italy. The film is a special take on the relationship between women and motors and does justice to the fundamental technical contributions of women. Driving would be impossible without fuel, which was made cleaner and safer by the discoveries on mineral catalysts of American chemist Edith Flanigen. A woman invented the heating system and we can be sure to reach our destination thanks to actress and inventor Hedy Lamarr, whose studies were fundamental for perfecting the GPS. These women made cars practical, safe and comfortable to use and this is why in 2017 on March 8 Fiat has decided to wish well to all women and thank those who made their cars what they are today.

Benjamin Hiorns is a freelance writer, struggling musician and feminist from Kidderminster in the UK. For more on International Women's Day 2017 you can also check out Creativepool features on activations by J. Walter Thompson, mcgarrybowen and The Partners.


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