Two Women Prep for a Pitch (and Some Casual Sexism) in Secret’s Newest ‘Stress Test’

'Who coded this?' 'We did.'

It's a new year! And Secret's "Stress Test" is back, this time with a scenario that's all too familiar for agencies, marketers and entrepreneurs.

Two ads, directed by Gia Coppola at The Directors Bureau, feature Ash and Emma, whom we meet as they step into an elevator, preparing for a pitch. This plays out in a rapid-fire Q&A, laced with tension, determination and a clear expectation of some sexist pushback:

"Site visits?"

"1.2 million."


"6.4 percent!"

"I doubt you girls could pull that off."

"Got the data right here, sir!"

"Who came up with this business plan?"

"We did."

"Who coded this?"

"We did."

As the elevator rings open, they shoot each other a fiercely proud smile before walking out, heads up, like bosses. The ad concludes, "Ash and Emma's pitch adds two more girls to the boys' club."

We meet the pair again in "The Bear." Same elevator, and possibly the same client (or not). This time, the askee in the previous ad has become a cheerleader, pouring pep talk into her colleague as the latter stands braced, arms up and spread to receive the light.

"You are a bear. You dominate, you're brilliant, articulate. Yes, those numbers are correct. Yes, those projections are feasible—" Ding! Goes the elevator.

"Because you're killing it," she whispers sassily as they step into the lion's den.

This ad wraps with, "Major pressure moments need major sweat protection."

Like previous "Stress Tests," the work was created by Wieden + Kennedy, which scooped Secret up in 2015 without having to undergo a sweaty review.

The campaign kicked off last year with an ad where a young woman asks for a long-overdue raise. On its heels came a classic 'first I love you' (via text, natch), an adorable gender role reversal, and even the quiet tribulations of being a transgender woman.

These scenarios aren't unusual in real life, but it's only in the last handful of years that they've been so generously given voice in advertising—let alone by one brand. 

A Secret spokeswoman previously told us the campaign seeks to "highlight new roles millennial women are taking on in society," but the brand also hopes to illustrate the particularities of "stress sweat," which P&G claims is biologically different than physically induced sweat.

Ash and Emma convey both messages with intimacy, unity and humor. And, like their predecessors, they also make us feel like we're in on something. (A Secret!)

In "The Pitch" and "Bear," as in many of the campaign's previous ads, you get the feeling of being an insider, witnessing scenarios that are common—and wryly acknowledged—among women, but little seen nor discussed in mixed company.

This is partly because of how insidious bias can be: How do you explain the difference between an all-woman team and a male team slaving day and night over a pitch? Ash and Emma show it with levity—in addition to memorizing site traffic and conversion rates, they've also had to prep for what might be hiding between the lines.


Client: Secret

Agency: Wieden+Kennedy

Group Creative Director: Justine Armour

Creative Director: Caio Lazzuri

Art Director: Danielle Delph

Art Director: Johan Arlig

Copywriter: Claire Wyckoff

Producer: Jessica Staples

Producer: Jennifer Hundis

Production Company: The Directors Bureau

Director: Gia Coppola

Director of Photography: Larkin Seiple

Executive Producer: Lisa Margulis

Executive Producer: Elizabeth Minzes

Line Producer: Benjamin Gilovitz

Editorial: Final Cut

Editor: Paul Zucker

Executive Producer: Eric McCasline

Head of Production: Suzy Ramirez

Assistant Editor: Betty Jo Moore

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