Ad Council and David Schwimmer address sexual harassment in new awareness campaign

Sexual harassment is at the top of the news and to address the problem, the Ad Council has joined with actor and producer David Schwimmer to present a national campaign designed to empower victims and bystanders to speak out.

The campaign, #ThatsHarassment, is a collaboration between Schwimmer, the Ad Council, writer and director Sigal Avin, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) and the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), and also provides tools for employers to create a safe work environment.

The public service announcements, executive produced by Schwimmer, Avin and Mazdack Rassi of Milk Studios, are shortened versions of films that first launched in April 2017. The films, written and directed by Avin, depict various cases of sexual harassment in the workplace, all based on real events. Schwimmer, Avin and Rassi created this project to highlight behaviors that are unacceptable and to end institutional silence and complicity.

“My mother, my sister, countless female colleagues and friends have all experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime,” said Schwimmer. “Now I’m a father of a young daughter and I’m angry and concerned about the rise in, and our culture’s acceptance of, totally unacceptable behavior by men towards women. Men who demean, deride, discredit, harass and assault women – no matter what their position of power – need to be held accountable.”

The films take place in various professional settings in which sexual harassment can occur and depict different scenarios where men in positions of power cross the line. They include: ‘The Boss’ starring Zazie Beetz and Schwimmer, ‘The Coworker’ starring Grace Gummer and Joseph Sikora, ‘The Politician’ starring Harry Lennix and Emmy Rossum, ‘The Actor’ starring Noah Emmerich and Cristela Alonzo, ‘The Doctor’ starring Cynthia Nixon and Michael Kelly and ‘The Photographer’ starring Bobby Cannavale and Anna Van Patten. All are made to make the viewer an uncomfortable bystander in the various situations.

“Knowledge is key for change. For me, the biggest achievement of '#ThatsHarassment’ is giving harassment a face. Taking what some consider “a grey area” and making it clear, “that’s harassment.” The fact that there’s a visual aid to clarify and demonstrate what sexual harassment is, will minimize the phenomenon,” Avin added.

The campaign also encourages employers to use the films for training to proactively address and prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Separately, in partnership with NWLC, Schwimmer and Avin have created a digital toolkit for employers and are inviting them (including C-suite executives, HR directors, supervisors and managers) to use these films to educate, inform and ensure they are creating safe work environments and conditions for their employees.

Every day, hundreds of those in the US workforce are affected by sexual violence and abuse – the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) estimates that one in four women face harassment in the workplace, and many are hesitant to report it.

Beginning January 26, the full-length short films and PSAs will be supported digitally and on television by major media companies including ABC/Freeform, Amazon, CBS, The CW, Fox, FX, Hulu, Starz and Showtime. The Ad Council will nationally distribute a 30-second cut down of three of the six originally launched films to media outlets nationwide.

To see the three spots, click on the Creative Works box below.

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