#timeTo stop sexual harassment

The UK’s ‘#timeTo’ campaign

The UK’s ‘#timeTo’ campaign


In the wake of ‘#MeToo’, the local ad industry responses across the world have been wildly different. The US went full throttle, with its take-no-prisoners ‘Times Up’ campaign and the maverick ‘Diet Madison Avenue’ Insta account that’s currently mired in a lawsuit.

In France, things took their time. But when, at the beginning of 2019, women began to go public with their experiences of sexism and lose their jobs as a result, Christelle Delarue, founder of agency Mad&Women, backed them and offered them jobs. Talk about Liberté, Egalité and Sororité.

And the Brits? Well we really leant into our stereotype and went for the polite, measured and steady course of action with ‘#timeTo’.

You see, the UK may be tearing itself apart over the tiny little question of whether, how and when to leave the European Union but, over the past 12 months, the UK advertising industry has shown itself to be a surprising pocket of collaboration and unity. In March, various associations and rivals came together with the Department for International Trade for Export Month, to forge new relationships in China, Japan and the US. In May, there was near revolt as Audi called an agency review after nearly 40 years and a track record of stellar creative from BBH — agencies including Lucky Generals, Leo Burnett, Creature, VMLY&R, Mother and more — declined to pitch in a demonstration of unity. But perhaps one of the most consistent and meaningful demonstrations of solidarity has come when attempting to tackle the pernicious subject of sexual harassment.

Last year, NABS (National Advertising Benevolent Society), WACL (Women in Advertising and Communication) and the AA (Advertising Association), with the support of ISBA (Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) and the IPA (Institute of Practitioners in Advertising), collaborated to find out the true extent of sexual harassment in the UK industry. They launched a wide-ranging survey in order to confront the reality of the issue and take a baseline by which to assess any future progress.

The results were shocking. Thirty-four per cent of women and 9% of men said they had experienced it and, of those, 83% had not reported it. Sickeningly, 10% who had reported it said they had lost their job as a result.

In response, the group launched a code of conduct, but one designed to help not just those who had experienced harassment but those who worried that they might have crossed a line. “Firstly and most importantly, it [the code] gives a very clear definition of what sexual harassment is, because one of the big findings from the survey was that people were not actually sure,” explains Kerry Glazer, president of NABS, former president of WACL and CEO of AAR Group. “They might have experienced some unwanted sexual behaviour, but they were not sure whether they’d been harassed or not.”

And the cornerstone of the approach is a simple, incisive and infinitely adaptable creative strategy devised by Lucky Generals.

‘#timeTo’ is a proactive campaign, but one that engages with grey areas and ideas of personal boundaries. And the strategy was one that encouraged people to question themselves and others, rather than issuing blanket directives.

• Read the full article in the Lions Daily News Issue One, out now online and in print throughout the city of Cannes.

Harriet Palmer