JWT London Made These Risqué T-Shirts Telling Cannes Attendees to ‘F the Pay Gap’

Agency makes a statement about income inequality

Headshot of Katie Richards

CANNES, France–A campaign that launched around International Women’s Day is picking up speed at Cannes this week as a team from JWT London continues to look for ways to fight the gender pay gap.

The project, “F the Pay Gap,” was born out of JWT London’s innovation group when some of the team got to thinking about salary and some learned about the salary discrepancies between men and women.

“We work with women every day; they are part of the team every day,” Lucas Peon, executive creative director at JWT London, said. “It’s actually an insult to be sitting here working with our female partners and all of sudden, she is getting paid less.”

That bit of insight and what Peon described as “rage” led to the simple idea that taking away 25 percent of a woman’s salary is an insult. So, Peon and his team decided to take that 25 percent figure and apply it to text, which they then printed on T-shirts. For the “F the Pay Gap” campaign, JWT took a handful of phrases and struck out 25 percent of them. At first glance, the results appear insulting to women—”Fund Girls” turns into “Fu** Girls,” for instance—but that’s kind of the point.

The next wave of the campaign kicked off this week with JWT handing out the shirts along the Croisette to Cannes Lions attendees. The shirts are also available for sale online, with all proceeds going in full to charities that support equal pay for women.

The agency hopes men and women take photos wearing their shirts and post them on social media using the hashtag #FThePayGap.

“We thought we would put in front of them a message and want to make sure it gets to all of us in the industry,” Peon said. “It’s a place where the concentration of these people is quite tight. It’s a grassroots campaign so it’s the perfect place to be.”

Peon and his team plan to start reaching out to influencers to continue spreading the word and hopefully selling many more shirts.

@ktjrichards katie.richards@adweek.com Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.