08 mar, 2017

The Women’s Foundation, JWT Hong Kong Take on Workplace Sexism with ‘Career Line’ campaign

Career Line2

HONG KONG, March 8, 2017 - Hong Kong is a modern metropolis where women have long held top corporate and political jobs.  Yet it can also be a place of casual sexism, which creeps into the workplace.  It’s even baked into the local language:  the phrase 事業線, or “Career Line,” is widely used in local tabloids and casual conversation to refer to a woman’s cleavage.

The Women’s Foundation, one of Hong Kong’s leading NGOs dedicated to the advancement of women, decided to challenge the use of the phrase in an attention-grabbing campaign to kickstart a conversation about objectification and inequality in the workplace, while at the same time celebrating the talent, capabilities and drivers behind the real career lines of successful Hong Kong women.  

Working with J. Walter Thompson, The Women’s Foundation first created a website and an online campaign promoting a fictitious plastic surgery clinic called Career Line. They then set up a pop-up booth outside Hong Kong University for three days to promote the clinic, offering the services of experienced surgeons to enhance a woman’s cleavage and help her stand out in a competitive job market. 

On International Women’s Day, The Women’s Foundation revealed the surgery was a stunt at a press conference and the spoof website switched to a real website for the #MyRealCareerLine campaign. Female icons from media, entertainment, business and sports supported the #MyRealCareerLine campaign by sharing the story behind their ‘real career line’ in a short film directed for TWF and JWT by celebrated TVC director, writer and blogger Bud Ming. They include Olympic swimmer Stephanie Au, Freshfields Partner and China Chairman Teresa Ko, model Janet Ma, World Snooker Champion On-yee Ng, Founder of JupYeah Ren Wan and YouTuber and singer Hana Tam, entrepreneur Kayla Wong, science student Daisy Ngai and illustrator Stella So. After sharing their stories, the film shows the women ripping up a poster of a stylised cleavage underscoring their support for the campaign.

“We needed to do something disruptive to get people to rethink the term. With the stunt plastic surgery firm, we took the notion behind the phrase to an extreme to show the absurdity of it, and to raise awareness of this sort of everyday, casual sexism that people have become almost numb to,” said Jocelyn Tse, Head of Strategic Planning at J. Walter Thompson Hong Kong.

To encourage people to share the message, J. Walter Thompson also created a social media tool that allows people to upload their own headshots which are superimposed on the image of someone tearing up a poster of a stylised cleavage.

The campaign was inspired by J. Walter Thompson’s Female Tribes research, which found that 40% of Hong Kong women respondents felt talked down to at work and 53% felt they don’t have the same professional opportunities as men.  

The phrase事業線 (career line) is just one form of casual sexism found in everyday language and media that legitimises the objectification of women and in the process, diminishes a woman’s professional achievements by making it all about her appearance.  Regular use makes people numb to it: 62% of the male and female respondents recently polled in an online survey by Edelman Intelligence said that the term事業線 was not derogatory or harmful.  Yet it is: 40% of respondents also said women in Hong Kong are routinely the subject of inappropriate comments on their body parts within the office, 62% of women felt discriminated against based on their looks, and one in four men aged 31-40 believed a woman’s success is based on her physical appearance.

“#MyRealCareerLine is The Women’s Foundation first major advertising campaign and we were incredibly excited to work with them on this project. We wanted to find a way to draw people out of daily life and the acceptance of casual sexism and objectification of women to engage them in a powerful and meaningful conversation,” said Gemma Swinglehurst,  Account Director at JWT Hong Kong, and Asia Pacific Business Director for the agency’s Female Tribes insight offering.

The campaign has garnered widespread support in Hong Kong. Other high-profile ambassadors for the campaign include Former Chief Secretary Anson Chan, SCMP CEO Gary Liu, Google’s Hong Kong Managing Director Leonie Valentine, Barclays Chief Executive for Hong Kong Anthony Davies and leading gender academic experts Susanne Choi of the Chinese University of Hong Kong and Annie Chen of Lingnan University. The campaign partners include strategic partner Facebook, PR partner Edelman Public Relations, Research partner Edelman Intelligence and media partners Google, LinkedIn, she.com, Marie Claire and Tatler.

“The #MyRealCareerLine campaign encourages everyone to reject the popular use of the term “career line” to refer to a woman’s cleavage and invites people and organisations to make a stand against casual sexism, objectification and inequality. We hope the role models in our film will inspire greater recognition of women’s true talents and capabilities,” said Su-Mei Thompson, CEO of The Women’s Foundation.

Click here to see the site, watch the video and use the social media tool.

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