The #MeToo Movement Hits Advertising

The Time’s Up movement took Hollywood by storm when sexual misconduct allegations of Harvey Weinstein and other well-known figures came to light. It sparked a viral sensation, spotlighting the systemic problem of sexual harassment and assault against women, particularly in the workplace. Both celebrities and everyday women used the hashtag #MeToo on social media to share stories of sexual violence to “ …de-stigmatize survivors by highlighting the breadth and impact sexual violence has on thousands of women.” Hence, Time’s Up was born, a letter of solidarity that fueled a movement, claiming “the clock has run out on sexual assault, harassment and inequality in the workplace.” Celebrities wore pins, roses, and black attire to express their support, and Time Magazine even named “Silence Breakers” as Person of the Year in response to campaign.

Now, the spotlight has turned to advertising. 180 female agency leaders recently launched Time’s Up Advertising in response to the silent taboo of sexual harassment in the ad world. While advertising has come a long way since the Mad Men days when it comes to treatment of women, no industry is left completely untouched. In fact, according to a 2016 study conducted by A4, more than half of women in advertising have experienced sexual harassment at least once, and 42% said gender discrimination kept them from decision-making roles in the industry.

Former ad industry exec Cindy Gallop argues that advertising, in particular, is a culprit of systemic sexual violence, claiming, “The biggest issue facing our industry today is not diversity — it’s sexual harassment, which prevents gender equality and diversity from happening. RAINN, David Schwimmer, Sigal Avin, and the Ad Council joined the national conversation by producing PSAs with the title #ThatsHarrassment, shedding more light on workplace sexual misconduct. 

Time’s Up Advertising intends to start a dialogue about these issues, as well as drive new policies that foster safe, inclusive professional environments.

Here at AFFIRM Agency, we are proud to implement the BY YOUR SIDE campaign on behalf of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), offering support for sexual assault survivors in Wisconsin. If you or a loved one would like support, resources, or information related to sexual violence, please visit or call 1-800-446-6564 to connect with the WI Department of Justice Office of Crime Victim Services.

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