Phenomenon Womanplains the Equality Issues

Not all agencies are equal. Phenomenon made an attempt to change that.

Kyla Elliott
Group Creative Director Phenomenon

Tell us about your role in the creation of this work.

I’m a Group Creative Director at Phenomenon and helped the creative team concept and create the film. I also appear in it! And in plenty of footage on the cutting room floor…

Give us an overview of the campaign, what is it about?

It’s an attempt to address some of the key issues that women in advertising face: from not being ‘right’ for that big sports brief, to the familiar language and behavior that belittles our roles. These are gripes so simple that they really just need to be womansplained. They were scarily easy to compile. We also wanted to create something empowering for Equal Pay Day, when we released the piece.

Tell us about the details creative brief, what did it ask?

It was a proactive concept, brought to us by one of our talented creative teams, Katelyn Murray and Julie Soluri. They suggested that some of these frustrations people have experienced just needed Womansplaining in simple terms, by the women and men of Phenomenon. It just really resonated with us.

Which insight led to the creation of this piece of work?

Our agency takes female leadership seriously: our President, Chief Creative Officer, Chief Production Officer and Chief Talent & Culture Officer and Chief Growth Officer are all female. We’ve all worked at places with the odd token female in charge, but at Phenomenon we have achieved an actual balance. We’re proud of this and as a group, we were discussing some of the things that we’re now freely empowered to say and how it affects our behavior at work.

Can you share with us any alternative ideas (if any) for this campaign? Why was this idea chosen? What was the greatest challenge that you and your team faced during development?

It’s tone really that’s most complicated when addressing issues of equality and for exactly that: equality is the aim, not the chance to bash anyone just for the sake of it. I’m very sad to say that a lot of us have had to deal with way worse issues at work than felt right or this piece, but we wanted to create something that ultimately felt positive. There are a lot of conversations in culture addressing the more difficult aspects, we wanted to get into the details—and the nonsense, for example those people who say you can’t pay anyone a compliment any more. We just wanted to show this in a way that was essentially fun and not condescending.

What did you enjoy most about seeing this campaign through? Did you learn anything new from the experience?

By its very nature it created a sense of solidarity. For example, we asked everyone to list the things they’ve been called at work that were inappropriate and it was great to be able to say it out loud, own it, acknowledge it all and have a laugh.

Where do you see this campaign going in the future?

We’re hoping that people watch this piece and are interested in the inclusive work culture we’re creating at Phenomenon and want to become part of developing, diversifying it and growing further. Wherever we go next will be driven by the Phenomenon community.