How I’m using advertising to #fthepaygap

How I’m using advertising to #fthepaygap

CannesRachel Pashley of J Walter Thompson London explains the agency’s provocative new campaign supporting equality at work

At the Cannes Festival of Creativity this year, The Fearless Girl created by McCann was one of the most highly awarded campaigns. “Where’s the brand?” snarked some detractors, but the initiative itself – aimed at raising awareness for women in leadership and addressing the paucity of female board representation – has stimulated unprecedented discussion and awareness. This is what good advertising does.

For International Women’s Day this year at J. Walter Thompson London we launched the FThePayGap campaign, an initiative aimed at raising public consciousness and blood pressure around the fact that even in 2017 the majority of women do not get equal pay for the work they do.

The global aggregated pay gap stands at around 24 per cent according to UN Women. In the UK it stands at 19.7 per cent – it varies by country and sector, but the point is there’s a gap. Women doing the same work as their male peers get paid less. If you think about it for any length of time – not sure about you, but it makes me angry. It’s when I think about the corollary of the pay gap, the long-tail effect, that the rage kicks in. In fact, getting paid less for the same work is an insult.

One of the big reasons why women are significantly more likely to retire in poverty is the pay gap, the cumulative impact of having less money each month to put aside for old age. It’s one of the reasons some children go hungry or without heating because mothers, often in part-time work, get paid less.

Now, there are various theories put forward to explain the gap, some more spurious than others, but much of it boils down to unconscious bias: men’s work is valued more highly. A Catalyst survey revealed that Female MBA graduates attracted a starting salary of $4,600 behind their male peers, and a 2012 study by Yale University revealed that the identical CV when positioned as female attracted a salary of $4,000 less than the same CV with a male name.

When it comes to doing something about it, consciousness is an issue again. Many people, both men and women, simply aren’t aware or “awake” shall we say to the pay gap issue, and that’s a problem: lack of awareness leads to lack of action. If you’re an employer or a boss with line reports, when was the last time you considered the possibility that a pay gap might exist?

Equally, while many women assume they may be fairly paid, when was the last time you checked? Looked at, say, an industry benchmark? We felt that while public policy is one thing, the only way to really put a dent in the pay gap is to agitate for change, to make everyone male or female intolerant to the existence of a pay gap and to do their part: we needed to spread the rage.

Our FThePayGap campaign played with the idea that taking away 25 per cent of anything is offensive, and using text we blanked out a quarter of the copy for iconic phrases. The strength of the ideas is that your brain or unconscious bias is hardwired to “autocomplete” an offensive meaning, but on closer inspection the real meaning emerges. F….Girls becomes Fund Girls, the slightly more risqué Fill your Purse and perhaps the most effective execution of the campaign being Girls Want Hard Cash. 

To illustrate the speed at which advertising moves, we got the campaign up and running in 48 hours, with national digital 6 sheets donated through Maxus and Clear Channel. Thanks to Instagram, Twitter an influencer campaign and the tireless efforts of two hardy supporters from the London office handing out T-shirts from a big pink suitcase in the heat of Cannes, the campaign has attracted something of a social following under #fthepaygap, and we’re now selling the T shirts at, with all profits donated to women’s charities that are working to fight the pay gap.

To people who think that all advertising still has to be hawking a product, let me say this: advertising is in the business of selling ideas through creativity, paraphrasing Walter Landor, “if products are made in the factory and brands in the mind”.

What we do exists in the public consciousness, advertising is part of and shapes culture: to my mind therefore it is perfectly legitimate for those ideas to make a powerful comment on culture and society at large. Think back to the 1960s, when the ad industry supported the civil rights movement, and in the 1980s, the great Benetton campaigns commenting on attitudes towards HIV and racism. Unlike public policy, which takes decades to enact change, with power in the hands of the few, advertising moves at the speed of a pen – or a mouse – and hands power to everyone. We can all participate (and look good while doing it in this case).  

Maybe there are a few industry people content to sell the washing powder, collect the pay cheque and go home every night (although, to be fair, I don’t see many) but we at JWT London definitely don’t see it that way. Working in an industry where we have access to millions of screens, where we can create ideas to infect culture, why wouldn’t you want to create a positive legacy?

The work we do as part of Female Tribes is unapologetic in our mission to change the cultural narrative, to work with clients and NGOs to create ideas, products and services to change the way the world works for women: why be a spectator when you can shape the future?

Rachel Pashley is global planning director and creator of Female Tribes at J Walter Thompson London

The one thing mums’ groups won’t talk about

The one thing mums’ groups won’t talk about


Sonja Morgenstern valued the support she got in person and online from fellow mothers. But she felt frozen out when she started talking politics

As a single parent I’ve come to rely on the support of other mums. From NCT and playgroup buddies to Facebook groups, they’re always there to share in my challenges and achievements in parenting. And yet while we’ve shared everything from labour stories to sleepless nights, one subject seems to be completely off limits: politics.

And I don’t just mean talking about what you think of Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn. Take as an example the time when I asked friends to sign a petition against cuts to a local family café. The venue, situated in a SureStart children’s centre, was offering vital support to isolated parents. A few people signed the petition, but most ignored it.

When a protest about it got coverage in two local newspapers, I posted the pictures on a Facebook group and also a WhatsApp group for local parents. Those communities offer comments to what car seat to buy, which potty to use, how best to navigate the latest conflict with the husband or in-laws, or where to go on holiday. There are regular meetups and general chats. Yet hardly anyone seemed to have anything to say about the café protest.

On another occasion in the run-up to the election I posted about the cuts to school meals planned by the Tories in a fertility support group and got instant criticism on the relevance of that article to the group. One woman said: “If posts on this group aren’t about supporting women on their way to motherhood, it’s not relevant and we may as well be posting about dancing kittens.”

That one hurt. I was of course aware that some ladies in the group aren’t yet mothers, but I simply wanted more mums-to-be to see this very relevant information. Before I had my son I’d paid no attention whatsoever to any party’s family politics, and I quickly found out that government policies can make a huge difference to family life.

I saw a chance to point this out, but realised my mistake and deleted the post after the “dancing kittens” comment. But I was still upset and retreated to the safety of my own timeline, where I posted a disappointed rant about the political apathy I was seeing. However this new post also attracted a series of accusations from another mum I know.

She told me that “voting is a private matter” and I had no right to share information that may be aimed at changing people’s minds about who to vote for, likening my expression of impotent despair to a “vague whinge”. She went on to unfriend me after telling me I knew “nothing about her life than the fact she has two children”, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

We had supported each other online for more than three years, and I’m grateful for the support I’ve had from her and other mums since I first started trying to get pregnant.

It is depressing, though, to feel that my opinions are only valued when I commiserate about potty training or tantrums. As a parent I don’t think you should dedicate more headspace to choosing a car seat, than choosing the government that will affect all our kids’ futures.

Of course car seats and potties are important, but neither of those will still be in use in four years’ time, while the next government almost always will. Your child really won’t care whether they came to be through a short or a long IVF protocol, or what father’s day card their daddy got, but government cuts to school meals have much further-reaching consequences.

So why can’t mothers be more supportive of those who speak out about issues affecting nearly all families? After all, when we do, everyone stands to benefit. The group protesting the cafe closure has now succeeded in getting it reopened two afternoons a week, ensuring that parents who need a place to go, somewhere to get a cheap coffee, some support, adult conversation, a safe haven away from an abusive partner, a place to connect to other family services can now continue to do this with the help of some volunteers.

I recently attended a feminist festival at the old Holloway Prison, which held many suffragettes during the time when they were fighting for women’s right to vote. Needless to say, I wasn’t accompanied by any of my old baby group friends. But it was inspiring to think about the suffragettes’ relentless and brave campaigning, against so many more obstacles than we face today.

It would be nice to honour them by at least giving the odd ‘like’ to a friend’s political post, and using our right to vote at every opportunity.

Sonja Morgenstern is a freelance journalist living in London

Anyone else feeling slightly sick about the Brexit talks?

Anyone else feeling slightly sick about the Brexit talks?


With our future in the balance, let’s hope that Brexit Means Brexit means something. Or at least that top Tories have more of a handle on this than appearances suggest, says Emma Bartley

As a Remainer / Remoaner / saboteuse / previously well-adjusted individual who has scarcely been able to pick up a newspaper for the past 12 months without screaming “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON, BRITAIN?”, I’m not entirely sure how I want the Brexit negotiations to go.

The vengeful part of me would like to see the Brexiteers fail miserably, just so the 48% can paint the words WE TOLD YOU SO on a rocket and shoot them into space.

The part that likes to think that there are some grown-ups, somewhere, in charge would love for the EU negotiators to show our Brexit policy for the nonsense it is. Like, “Eet says ere zat Le Bregsit means Le Bregsit. And Borees Johnson, e want un open Bregsit. Are you sure you didn’t just put zis sroo Google Translate? It mean nozzing!” (This is of course a dreadfully racist bit of stereotyping but at some point you’ve got to get on board with the national mood.)

Then the part of me that still loves my country is hoping it won’t be that bad. Because we are at a critical point in our history and it feels as if a lot of our future prosperity depends on these negotiations. Whatever “no deal is better than a bad deal” actually means, presumably most sensible Britons can agree that neither option sounds marvellous if it lumbers us with barriers to trade, significant restrictions on the movement of people, a huge financial obligation with none of the benefits of EU membership, etc, etc.

That part of me is still hoping that a different Theresa May, Boris Johnson and David Davis will turn up today from the ones whom we saw on the Brexit and general election campaign trails – the May who spoke so effectively about fairness when she was first made Prime Minister; the BoJo who speaks five languages and is pro-immigration; the David Davis who is so committed to human rights that he resigned over counter-terrorism measures. Or at least that there are some grown-ups in charge, somewhere (probably in the Civil Service).

Assuming Brexit goes ahead – and it’s unimaginable that anyone currently in charge will have the balls to tell The British Public In Their Wisdom that Brexit is not going ahead, however bad things start to look – we will need to reach a compromise with the EU.

Ideally for Remainers, that compromise would involve membership of the single market and guaranteed rights for EU citizens living here, and UK citizens living in Europe. More realistically, it’d be nice if Team May can cut a deal that doesn’t necessitate the City of London upping sticks to Frankfurt and the rest of us having only carefully rationed tinned food to eat.

Ironically, given that Taking Back Control was really high on the list of reasons people voted for Brexit, much will now depend on the EU negotiators. Will they send their grownups, who realise that we’re a pretty big trading partner and allowing us to chew our own arm off isn’t a great idea in the long run, or their vengeful children, who’ll quite happily watch us bleed to death just to show how much cleverer they are? As they probably don’t say in Brussels, regardez this space.

France needs to wake up and support Macron

France needs to wake up and support Macron

VOTESBYWOMEN_V41Voting for the Assemblée National in France is under way and Scheenagh Harrington is keeping everything crossed that the new president’s party En Marche can get the country moving again

Last weekend, while people in the UK were still absorbing the fall-out from the snap election, French voters were being asked to brave a scorching weekend to cast their ballot in the legislatives, elections that determine the composition of French parliament.

Despite blanket coverage on French news sites, there really wasn’t much to get excited about – the participation level was a decidedly meh 20 per cent for most of the day, rising to around 50 per cent as the day began to cool down.

As an outsider I found the record low turnout surprising, but the French voting system, which happens in rounds, means that many are experiencing fatigue only a few weeks after the presidential election. And many believed that En Marche, the party of newly elected president Emmanuel Macron was a shoo-in to win.

In the event, En Marche won 32% of the voting share, with Les Republicains (the conservative party of Francois Fillon and Nicolas Sarkozy) getting 21% and Marine Le Pen’s far right Front National picking up almost 14%, according to Le Monde. The Parti Socialiste, crippled by a lack of support for outgoing president François Hollande, fared disastrously, polling less than 10% of the vote, beaten by the communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon on 11%.

That leaves Macron’s army of political neophytes set to score a stunning, historic victory, with some media outlets predicting they will secure between 400 and 440 seats in l’hemisphère – the semi-circular room where the Assemblée Nationale meets. Unlike in the UK and US, new French leaders traditionally enjoy a warm and fuzzy honeymoon, with the electorate ready to give them the best possible chance of success – and God knows, this country needs more than a little sunshine.

The stagnant economy desperately needs a new vision and more than cheeky invitations to US climate scientists to come and work in France, while high unemployment rates, especially among the young, desperately need to be tackled. Macron represents a new start, with none of the grubby scandal that tainted Fillon or Le Pen. He’s young, so he can speak to the electorate most affected by joblessness and a lack of government support. And as an educated, sophisticated centrist, he’s able to flirt with the left and right sides of the political spectrum.

The priority will be tackling the trade unions, which have the capacity to bring the country to a standstill in a heartbeat – and recently did so when a controversial law was pushed through the Assemblée that reformed France’s notoriously restrictive labour laws. (These heavily favour employees, and any reforms which are seen to erode their rights are very unwelcome indeed.) Macron has already publicly stood up to bully-boys Putin and Trump, and the unions will find a much tougher opponent in him than Hollande. If he can get them to see he has the wider country’s interests at heart, then maybe he can effect real change.

Filling the seats of the Assemblée with his representatives could mean that the much-needed reforms that will drag France out of the doldrums become a reality. But only if this weekend is as successful as the previous one. All I can do is hope.

Thank God for Tim Farron’s resignation

Thank God for Tim Farron’s resignation

VOTESBYWOMEN_V32[1]Tim Farron became the Brexit saboteur who crushed himself, says Emma Bartley. Now can we please have at least one sensible centrist leader with a bit of charisma?

First thoughts on hearing that Tim Farron had resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats? “Thank God for that.” Second thoughts? “Literally.”

Because somehow Tim Farron is all about Christianity now. All we know about him, and probably all we’ll ever know about him, is that he’s morally opposed to bum sex. Clearly he had to go, and yesterday he did the decent thing.

Quite frankly, I can’t believe it took him a week. At the start of the snap election, the Liberal Democrats were standing in front of an open goal. The Prime Minister was asking for a mandate for a hard Brexit and they were the strongest opponents of it. The 48% who had voted to remain in the EU should have seen them as the natural protest vote. Those of us who come out in hives every time we hear the phrase “Brexit means Brexit” should have been door-knocking, envelope-stuffing and putting up Lib Dem signs in our liberal metropolitan front yards. But we didn’t, because Tim Farron doesn’t agree with bum sex.

Eleanor Marriott argued on this blog that religion and politics should be kept separate, but with gay rights something of a crossover point most people didn’t go that way. Most people missed Farron’s scrambled clarification that he didn’t think homosexuality was a sin, and believed in equality for all. Indeed, quite a lot of people missed his name, with one acquaintance of mine declaring: “The man from the Liberal Democrats is terrible, he doesn’t believe in gay rights!”

So nobody much voted Liberal Democrat, with Farron only winning his own seat by 700-odd votes (down from about 9,000 the previous time) and the former leader Nick Clegg voted out. It seemed bizarre when Farron sat tight after the result, which improved his number of MPs from a pathetic eight to a still-paltry 12 (they got 57 under Clegg in 2010).

After a week of everybody sitting around eyeing each other awkwardly, the gay Lib Dem peer Brian Paddick finally made the first move on Farron (pun intended), resigning as home affairs spokesman because of “concerns about the leader’s views on various issues that were highlighted during GE17”. Within hours, the leader was gone and very soon he’ll be forgotten.

I don’t intend to be vicious to Farron, who must have pretty much drawn straws with his seven fellow Lib Dem MPs to decide who’d become party leader in 2015. He’s tried his best to serve his party and it’s not his fault he has all the charisma of a Weetabix. But there’s a massive, yawning chasm in the centre of British politics right now and we urgently need a Macron or a Trudeau to fill it. Can anyone in the Lib Dems step up?

Five ways to style out a political apology

Five ways to style out a political apology


After Theresa May’s well-received “soz” to the 1922 committee of MPs, we look at how politicians from Clinton to Cameron said sorry

1. The “Oops” – Theresa May on the snap election
After seven weeks bleating some of the stupidest campaign slogans yet to insult the British people (we’re looking at you, magical money tree), Theresa May made a surprisingly good speech to her fellow MPs. “I got us into this mess and I’ll get us out of it,” she promised – to loud cheers from a group who still hate her, but realised just in time that they hate Boris Johnson more.


2. The non-apology apology – Tony Blair
Is Tony Blair sorry about the Iraq war? He’s sorry that he planned it badly: “For all of this, I express more sorrow, regret and apology than you can ever know or believe.” But he still reckons getting rid of Saddam was a thumping good idea. “What I cannot and will not do is say we took the wrong decision.”


3. The too little, too late – Nick Clegg
Spotting that an entire generation of young people were quite pissed off with him after voting Liberal Democrat as a protest vote about university tuition fees – only for the Liberal Democrats to triple university tuition fees – the former Deputy Prime Minister tried a little charm. “When you’ve made a mistake, you should apologise,” he said. “But most importantly you’ve got to learn from your mistakes.” Which is why he probably won’t be doing any more video apologies after a heavily indebted student autotuned the clip.
4. The confessional – Bill Clinton
Caught out for shagging an intern and lying about it in 1998, the US President (those were the days) told a breakfast meeting of religious leaders that he had sinned, asking for forgiveness and speaking of repentance and even wanging in the Bible for good measure. While still managing, on account of his resting smirk face, to look like a massive shagger who would do it all again given half the chance.


5. The “Sorry that somebody else screwed up” – David Cameron
Our most apologetic Prime Minister to date made a sort of hobby of apologising for stuff his predecessors had screwed up, from Bloody Sunday to Hillsborough to the Amritsar massacre. But when he called a referendum on EU membership and lost, leaving a legacy of political chaos and economic uncertainty? “I wish I had won … I am sad about that,” he reflected, before skipping off into the private sector to charge six-figure sums for talking about it.
What turned the tide for Jeremy Corbyn and Labour

What turned the tide for Jeremy Corbyn and Labour


The much-criticised Labour leader made a surprisingly strong showing in the general election, and not just among the young. Sarah Ebner asks why

On May 28 this year, I tweeted: “If Tories want to actually win election need to stop offering “fear of other” as main reason to vote for them Didn’t work w/ Brexit.”

This was at a time when everyone still seemed to think Theresa May would achieve a huge victory. Recalling how badly the negative campaigns had gone for Remain in the EU referendum and for Zac Goldsmith in the London mayoral election, I felt they had picked the wrong battle lines. The problem with running a campaign that is all about fear of the opposition is that, if the opposition suddenly seems less terrible, you are left in deep, deep trouble.

Yet when I spoke to committed Tory voters, it was almost as if they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) see any possibility other than a May victory. Even though their campaign was negative, listless, and all about the fear of what the alternative might bring, they couldn’t see an alternative. They just didn’t think people would vote for Jeremy Corbyn.

Well, they were as wrong as the advisers surrounding the Prime Minister. They treated the electorate as if it was stupid; as if people would vote only out of fear of what they didn’t know. They didn’t think it was possible – even after Brexit, and to a lesser extent Trump – that people might choose to jump into the unknown.

My feeling is that the British public rarely does something stupid – unless given a very, very good reason. This holds for all sorts of things, from voting for the winners of televised talent shows (a poor, talentless candidate may have a good run, but never actually wins) to mayoral elections. Brits don’t like being taken for granted or told what to do.

Brits also like to give people a chance, particularly an underdog. So, if you call a seven-week election campaign, then that’s more than enough time for someone to be given that chance. And for them to take it and run.

There are so many reasons why Labour outperformed predictions in this election – some due to Corbyn and many due to May’s own mistakes. But some of Corbyn’s success was undoubtedly in energising younger voters. I’m delighted that the young finally made their voices heard – they matter as much as everyone else and in the last few years they have suffered Brexit (which they didn’t want), higher tuition fees and a sense that they will never get on the housing ladder. The Conservatives offered them nothing.

The Labour Party offered them, yes, a bribe (getting rid of tuition fees and restoring maintenance grants). More broadly than that it offered hope, while Conservatives talked of things that seemed entirely irrelevant to their lives – not least the IRA. And finally in Corbyn the young saw a politician who appeared to “get” them, to like young people and be able to talk to them. (Although I have been pondering, as my own daughter said to me, why the young seem to like old, white men such as Corbyn and Bernie Sanders so much.)

Whatever drove so many of them to register and turn out to vote in this election, the young seem to have made a big difference in seats such as Reading and Bristol West. But the upturn in Labour’s vote was not entirely due to them.

It was about two weeks into the campaign when I saw the tide begin to turn. Many of my friends had complained about Jeremy Corbyn for some time – in particular, they disliked the people he was surrounded by and were concerned about some of the aggression that his leadership seemed to have unearthed, including misogyny and anti-Semitism.

But when the election began in earnest, when Theresa May offered nothing but negativity – not just in her speeches, but in her manifesto – those fears, at least for many, seemed to ebb away. Suddenly the “nasty” party was back.

People suggested, passionately (as they always have done), that if you voted Tory, then you were voting against a fairer society. Those who had been anti-Corbyn talked of voting for the party, not the leader, and persuaded themselves that he wasn’t “that bad”, and that the worrisome things about him were in the past. His success seems due to a mixture of those who voted for Labour despite him, and those who voted specifically for him.

Pundits laugh at the idea that well-off Londoners in boroughs like Kensington or Battersea would vote for a leftwing party, but many people really do care about fairness. They are willing to pay higher taxes so that schools can be better funded and people better cared for. Older people may not be full of idealism any more, but it’s not just the young who would like a society that seems more equitable.

We live in a more diverse society and Mrs May did not seem to be able to reflect that (fields of wheat? Really?). Londoners – like many others – do not want a political party which thinks that bringing back fox hunting could be a priority, or sees them as “citizens of nowhere”. And they certainly did not like their mayor being criticised by the US President. If the PM had slapped him down, it would have helped.

It was also fascinating to realise that, when it comes to elections, foreign affairs just don’t matter that much. No one seemed too concerned that Corbyn and those closest to him are pro Putin; that the shadow chancellor John McDonnell paraded under an Assad flag, or that Seumas Milne, Corbyn’s director of strategy and communications, thinks Stalin and the Stasi have been mistreated by history (yes, really).

Labour did not win the election, but they could have done. Since the Brexit vote politics have been turned upside down: Britain seems to be split, and the future is unpredictable. But whatever happens next, politicians need to take note of all the electorate – the many, not just the few.