Theraflu extends a helping hand to employees

Through a mini-film and charitable partnership, GlaxoSmithKline highlights the lack of paid sick leave for many employees.

Theraflu extends a helping hand to employees

As another flu season settles in, GlaxoSmithKline’s Theraflu has unveiled a campaign that shines a light on an issue facing many American employees: a lack of paid sick days.

It’s a problem that is especially pronounced among Black and Latino women, some 81% and 60% of whom, respectively, do not have access to paid sick days. As a result, they often have no option but to work through the illness, sometimes while serving as caregivers to children and parents alike.

“This was not the client or creative team sitting around and saying, ‘We need to do something purpose-driven,’” recalled Cass Zawadowski, VP, executive creative director at Wunderman Thompson. “Instead, this was us saying if GSK [Theraflu’s parent company] is truly about being accessible, what does that mean for Theraflu if it champions a flu-safe world?”

To do so, GSK and Wunderman Thompson turned to multicultural firm (and WT corporate sibling) UniWorld. The team’s first step was to establish the Rest & Recover Fund to cover lost wages for 1,000 unpaid sick days via a $150,000 grant to the Good+Foundation. The organization will administer the fund and provide support to workers through its local grassroots partners.

The second element was “Some Heroes,” a short film inspired in part by Amanda Gorman’s poem at the Biden inauguration. The film was written by Emmy-award-winning actor and poet Suzen Baraka.

“She talked about her lived experiences as a Black and Korean woman, and then she penned the poem ‘Some Heroes’ for us,” Zawadowski said. “Our ask of her there was just to make sure that she told an emotional story that was also uplifting. We know there are realities to what she is talking about, but we also wanted people to feel hopeful after they encountered this piece.”

Both Zawadowski and GSK are keenly aware that a fund covering 1,000 sick days will not even begin to reverse a systemic problem.

“The ambition is that we get enough eyes on this that other corporations and organizations want to help and add to the fund,” Zawadowski explained. “Next year we may not be funding just a thousand sick days, but hopefully 5,000 sick days or more. After that, how do we get in front of government, get bills passed? We are not there yet.”

While the Theraflu team doesn’t expect a detailed campaign results until the holidays, the social-first campaign, featuring six- and 15-second spots on Facebook and Instagram, appears to be generating buzz, Zawadowski reports. “Social serves as a teaser with every platform driving to the website, where it lives as a hero film, a write-up and a link to Good+Foundation. That is where the totality of the story comes to life.”

Zawadowski cited the campaign’s “authenticity” as the primary source of its appeal, even as she acknowledged that such praise has largely become cliché.

“Some people roll their eyes these days when they hear the word ‘authentic,’ but we continue to say it every week,” she noted. “From first presentation to wrapping the shoot, authenticity had to be key to bringing this to life – not just in the delivery of the poem, but in the words that were spoken. This particular demographic wants to know that someone understands them.”

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