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Out of the Shadows

Out of the Shadows

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

March 25, 2019

Shining a light on pioneering women

"Mainstream culture is quick to attribute success to male innovators."

We’ve all heard of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson. But what about Beatie Wolfe, Dr. Christyl Johnson, and Amy Williams?

These are just some of the women Havas UK and Havas New York celebrated with their “Impossible to Ignore” campaign for UN Women to mark International Women’s Day earlier this month.

All are regarded as pioneers and innovators but are largely unknown. But no more.

Their faces were projected on media sites in some of the most visible, heavily trafficked locations in the world to mark International Women’s Day and its theme “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change,” and delivered over 2 million impressions in a single day.

From New York City’s Times Square and JFK International Airport, to the digital billboards of the World Trade Center and Westfield London. From the London Underground and railway stations across the UK, to a Facebook filter provided worldwide; this coordinated takeover incorporated over 1,000 different appearances on digital, out of home and print platforms.

Faye Raincock, Havas UK, Head of Communications, shares how teams in two countries collaborated to bring this large-scale project together in a relatively short time.

Tell us a little about how this project came together.

At Havas UK, we are members of the UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC) committee and they were launching their #SheInnovates program on International Women’s Day. After one meeting where they explored the challenge of raising awareness of their work, we suggested that we could come up with something arresting and impactful to help support their launch.

But we had only eight weeks to do it. In fact, by the time we had the creative approach signed off by the leadership at the United Nations, we had six weeks and counting to deliver a really ambitious idea!

What was the goal of this campaign?

Despite global progress, women around the world continue to not only lack equal access to economic opportunity, technology, and means of production, but when they do gain access, they are often not recognized for their achievements. Mainstream culture is quick to attribute success to male innovators. When asked to name a famous innovator, most people name men like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

So the challenge for launching #SheInnovates was clear—how do we shine a light on pioneering women to ensure that they are no longer overlooked?

We had amazing stories of female innovation and accomplishment to feature; the problem was that time and budgets were against us. With only six weeks until the launch on International Women’s Day, we knew our idea needed to be strong enough to cut through, but also simple enough to be achieved in such a short turnaround.

"At the heart of the campaign, the idea was simple. These women have been invisible for too long."

Tell us a little about the women being highlighted. How were they selected?

At the heart of the campaign, the idea was simple. These women have been invisible for too long.

It’s time to make female innovators “Impossible to Ignore,” so that they can be acknowledged for their amazing work and inspire women everywhere.

But we had to find them. We recruited the entire GICC community and the UN Women network to nominate 100 women in all fields, from all countries and communities, who were innovating to solutions for the world’s problems. Then we chose a small group to feature in the advertising. We wanted to ensure they represented every kind of woman: young, old, from all nationalities, backgrounds, and ethnicities, so that women and girls around the world would see them and think that the women featured could be them too.

How were you able to place the ads in some of the most iconic places?

Using the power of Havas Media!

The ambition was to ensure that across both London and New York, for one day only, these women stood loud and proud, grabbing the attention they deserve.

The teams in London and New York worked tirelessly to create a “rallying cry” for all our partners and media owners, and we managed to secure free contributions from the likes of NASDAQ, JC Decaux, The Economist, Walgreens, Westfield, Facebook, and many more. The ads appeared on billboards, digital screens, in taxis, in print and online—displaying our female innovators emerging into the light, forcing people to stop, pay attention, and be inspired by their example. We also used photographers Bibi Cornejo Borthwick and Nadirah Zakariya, who donated their time for free, allowing us to grow the campaign from an initial one-day London shoot featuring two women to a six-city shoot featuring nine women.

Working with such a short deadline and time frame, what were some issues you ran into and how did you overcome them?

There were so many time issues. Our featured women were incredibly busy, and we needed them to attend shoots in different time zones with everyone donating their time and talents for free. But probably the biggest issue was handling the scale of the project. Once the donated media space started flooding in, we realized just how much we had to do in such a short space of time to get the artwork ready and the insertions delivered—so the scheduling was a nightmare! 

What’s been the reaction to this campaign so far?

Securing over 1,000 insertions across platforms—all of which were donated for free—the campaign reached over five million impressions, placing the faces of inspirational women onto some of the biggest and most arresting media sites in the world. It also secured coverage in publications in both the US and UK and led to a spike in registrations for UN Women’s #SheInnovates program on International Women’s Day. The team at UN Women said how emotional they felt wandering the streets of New York City on the night of March 8 seeing the faces of our extraordinary women everywhere they looked.  

Any interesting moments while making this campaign?

The best moment for me was right at the very beginning of the project. We went to the creative department at Havas London and asked if anyone had the capacity, or the inclination, to help us build something with UN Women for International Women’s Day. About 40 people attended that first meeting. The ideas came in thick and fast and the determination to do something big and meaningful was just so exciting to be around. Then, when we went to the media agencies in the UK and the US cap in hand to ask for yet more help, we had such great reactions that it blew all our minds. The success of “Impossible to Ignore” is a real testament to the power of the team and to what a Havas Village can do when it sets its mind to something so ambitious.

"Mainstream culture is quick to attribute success to male innovators."

We’ve all heard of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Richard Branson. But what about Beatie Wolfe, Dr. Christyl Johnson, and Amy Williams?

These are just some of the women Havas UK and Havas New York celebrated with their “Impossible to Ignore” campaign for UN Women to mark International Women’s Day earlier this month.

All are regarded as pioneers and innovators but are largely unknown. But no more.

Their faces were projected on media sites in some of the most visible, heavily trafficked locations in the world to mark International Women’s Day and its theme “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change,” and delivered over 2 million impressions in a single day.

From New York City’s Times Square and JFK International Airport, to the digital billboards of the World Trade Center and Westfield London. From the London Underground and railway stations across the UK, to a Facebook filter provided worldwide; this coordinated takeover incorporated over 1,000 different appearances on digital, out of home and print platforms.

Faye Raincock, Havas UK, Head of Communications, shares how teams in two countries collaborated to bring this large-scale project together in a relatively short time.

Tell us a little about how this project came together.

At Havas UK, we are members of the UN Women’s Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC) committee and they were launching their #SheInnovates program on International Women’s Day. After one meeting where they explored the challenge of raising awareness of their work, we suggested that we could come up with something arresting and impactful to help support their launch.

But we had only eight weeks to do it. In fact, by the time we had the creative approach signed off by the leadership at the United Nations, we had six weeks and counting to deliver a really ambitious idea!

What was the goal of this campaign?

Despite global progress, women around the world continue to not only lack equal access to economic opportunity, technology, and means of production, but when they do gain access, they are often not recognized for their achievements. Mainstream culture is quick to attribute success to male innovators. When asked to name a famous innovator, most people name men like Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

So the challenge for launching #SheInnovates was clear—how do we shine a light on pioneering women to ensure that they are no longer overlooked?

We had amazing stories of female innovation and accomplishment to feature; the problem was that time and budgets were against us. With only six weeks until the launch on International Women’s Day, we knew our idea needed to be strong enough to cut through, but also simple enough to be achieved in such a short turnaround.

"At the heart of the campaign, the idea was simple. These women have been invisible for too long."

Tell us a little about the women being highlighted. How were they selected?

At the heart of the campaign, the idea was simple. These women have been invisible for too long.

It’s time to make female innovators “Impossible to Ignore,” so that they can be acknowledged for their amazing work and inspire women everywhere.

But we had to find them. We recruited the entire GICC community and the UN Women network to nominate 100 women in all fields, from all countries and communities, who were innovating to solutions for the world’s problems. Then we chose a small group to feature in the advertising. We wanted to ensure they represented every kind of woman: young, old, from all nationalities, backgrounds, and ethnicities, so that women and girls around the world would see them and think that the women featured could be them too.

How were you able to place the ads in some of the most iconic places?

Using the power of Havas Media!

The ambition was to ensure that across both London and New York, for one day only, these women stood loud and proud, grabbing the attention they deserve.

The teams in London and New York worked tirelessly to create a “rallying cry” for all our partners and media owners, and we managed to secure free contributions from the likes of NASDAQ, JC Decaux, The Economist, Walgreens, Westfield, Facebook, and many more. The ads appeared on billboards, digital screens, in taxis, in print and online—displaying our female innovators emerging into the light, forcing people to stop, pay attention, and be inspired by their example. We also used photographers Bibi Cornejo Borthwick and Nadirah Zakariya, who donated their time for free, allowing us to grow the campaign from an initial one-day London shoot featuring two women to a six-city shoot featuring nine women.

Working with such a short deadline and time frame, what were some issues you ran into and how did you overcome them?

There were so many time issues. Our featured women were incredibly busy, and we needed them to attend shoots in different time zones with everyone donating their time and talents for free. But probably the biggest issue was handling the scale of the project. Once the donated media space started flooding in, we realized just how much we had to do in such a short space of time to get the artwork ready and the insertions delivered—so the scheduling was a nightmare! 

What’s been the reaction to this campaign so far?

Securing over 1,000 insertions across platforms—all of which were donated for free—the campaign reached over five million impressions, placing the faces of inspirational women onto some of the biggest and most arresting media sites in the world. It also secured coverage in publications in both the US and UK and led to a spike in registrations for UN Women’s #SheInnovates program on International Women’s Day. The team at UN Women said how emotional they felt wandering the streets of New York City on the night of March 8 seeing the faces of our extraordinary women everywhere they looked.  

Any interesting moments while making this campaign?

The best moment for me was right at the very beginning of the project. We went to the creative department at Havas London and asked if anyone had the capacity, or the inclination, to help us build something with UN Women for International Women’s Day. About 40 people attended that first meeting. The ideas came in thick and fast and the determination to do something big and meaningful was just so exciting to be around. Then, when we went to the media agencies in the UK and the US cap in hand to ask for yet more help, we had such great reactions that it blew all our minds. The success of “Impossible to Ignore” is a real testament to the power of the team and to what a Havas Village can do when it sets its mind to something so ambitious.

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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