Is time up for the Time's Up advertising movement?

How agencies can work together in the fight for equality and women's rights.

In July 2016 I penned a very premature #MeToo recounting my 17-year struggle as a woman in advertising. I was blacklisted for two years. I struggled to pay my mortgage and groceries and, at times, to maintain my sense of professional and personal self worth.

Then I read about Time’s Up Advertising. The #MeToo movement that started with Tarana Burke was adopted by the powerful women of Hollywood, and then of Madison Avenue. However, the initiative proved to be a great idea in theory rather than practice.

Then I read about Golin’s Have Her Back initiative. I was skeptical and had reached a point where I didn’t need another assembly of high-powered women to nod, say sexism sucks, and call it a day.

Declaring "female equality matters to us, but we haven’t moved that needle," Have Her Back set forth on a mission of measurable action. I attended its flagship event. Within a month I was freelancing again, right up until I was offered a full-time job as a creative at Golin itself.

Both movements have a year under their belts. It was a rocky one for Time’s Up Advertising. But I’m convinced some of its more public missteps weren’t to blame for the initiative’s struggles.

Traditional ad agencies have historically been about big ideas, ones that move people to emotion more often than action. PR agencies have been the ones to "take it from here" and have been rolling up their sleeves to get responses, headlines, influencers, and likes.

But this is not 1990, or even 2010. Today, agencies work together, helping each other achieve the same goal. No one owns equality. Or, rather, we all do. I hope time is not up for Time’s Up Advertising. The answer isn’t in watching an amazing initiative fail.

The response is to step forward and say, "That’s an awesome idea. How can we achieve it together?"

Lisa Leone is creative director at Golin.

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