“Being so big that I couldn’t get myself out of the bathtub without help.” “Strangers coming up to touch your bump.” “Knocking things over with my tummy.” “Cankles.”
These are some of the “25 Annoying Things About Being Pregnant” Irish women initially identify in breezy, offhand fashion during the first half of Amnesty International’s new video below.
That bright tone dims around the 45-second mark. The chirpy soundtrack goes suddenly silent as a woman registers a different kind of grievance, and the ad’s true purpose is revealed.
The film supports a push to repeal the Eighth Amendment to Ireland’s constitution. Enacted in 1983, it outlaws abortion in all cases except where the mother’s life is in immediate danger. Rape, incest and any number of potentially serious health risks don’t qualify as mitigating factors. Every year, about 4,000 Irish women travel to other countries for abortion services.
“We felt we needed to make a statement that really would engage everyone,” Kathryn Ferguson, who directed the clip, tells AdFreak. “So, we went about creating a video that felt inclusive, but would happily sit on a women’s interest website and therefore be shared amongst women who wouldn’t ordinarily see it.”
With an Amendment 8 referendum scheduled for next year, Amnesty sought to step up its game. Ferguson, who gained experience with socially aware marketing while directing ads for Selfridges and Dove, delivered a potent piece of advocacy communications that succeeds at combining humor with straight talk in a way that feels urgent, but never preachy or strident.
“A huge percentage of my work, whether commercial or personal, centers around telling women’s stories, so this felt like a very natural project to be aligned with,” Ferguson says. “I have also been researching and shooting my own documentary about women’s reproductive rights in Ireland and Northern Ireland for the past two years.”
All told, Ferguson interviewed 21 women for the Amnesty film. “I was completely dumbstruck by each woman’s bravery and strength in coming forward and sharing their truths,” she says.
Of course, “we were hopeful it would touch a nerve at this important time,” says Ferguson, adding that the team is “delighted with just how far and wide it appears to be traveling,” generating coverage, conversation and controversy across Ireland and beyond.
“It’s a divisive subject that people are very passionate about, so it makes sense that people have felt strongly about it,” she says. “I’m just delighted to have helped create something that has helped raised awareness on such a large scale.”
Amnesty says the video has topped half a million views across all platforms since it was posted five days ago, and the organization hopes it inspires viewers to consider the Eighth Amendment’s broader impact on Irish society.
“It is often seen as only restricting women’s and girl’s access to abortion; however, it is much more insidious than that,” says Colm O’Gorman, executive director of Amnesty Ireland. “Thousands of women every year are affected by it in ways they do not anticipate or know about before it happens. We wanted to shine a light on the fact that the Eighth Amendment can have a serious and detrimental impact on all pregnant women’s and girls’ basic right to health.”
Client: Amnesty International
Creative Director / Art Director – Stephen Rogers
Creative Director / Copywriter – Shane O’Brien
Producer / Account Management – Jessica Derby
Strategist / Account Management – Fay Quilligan
Copywriter – Bernie Martin
Connection Strategist – Emer FitzGerald
Junior Producer – Karina Cotter
Production Services – Sorcha McCabe
Executive Producer – Andrew Freedman (Antidote)
Production coordinator – Paula Stewart (Antidote)
Researchers – Brian Raftery & Tessa Delehanty (Antidote)
Director – Kathryn Ferguson
DOP – Eoin McLoughlin
Camera Equipment – Vast Valley Ltd
Lighting Equipment – Teach Solais
Post Producer – Sinead Bagnall (Screen Scene Post Production)
Editor – Jaungus Dinsmore (Screen Scene Post Production)
Titles – Hubert Montag (Screen Scene Post Production)
Sound – Tim O’Donovan (Raygun Post Production)
Music – Steve Lynch (Stellar Sound)
Executive Director – Colm O’Gorman
Communications Manager – Clare Herbert
Communications Officer – Siobhan O’Mara
Campaigns Officer – Sorcha Tunney