The Drum Awards Festival - Extended Deadline

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By Awards Analyst, writer

November 12, 2021 | 8 min read

MediaCom UK won the ‘Financial services’ category at The Drum Awards for Social Media in 2021, with its campaign for Scottish Widows. Here, the team behind the entry explains how it tackled the gender pension gap on International Women’s Day.

Scottish Widows has been an industry trailblazer on the side of women since its inception. The Scottish Widows Fund and Life Insurance Society started life in 1815 to prevent the widows of those who fought and died in the Napoleonic Wars from plunging into poverty. It was an ambitious undertaking which was the blueprint for the entire pensions and retirement industry.

Over 200 years later, enabling and championing women to have a better quality of life in retirement continues to be part of Scottish Widows’ DNA. That quality of life is severely hampered by the Gender Pension Gap - a £100k shortfall in women’s pension savings in comparison to men. To achieve financial parity women would need to work for 30 years longer than men or start working from the age of nine. Neither reasonable, nor palatable.

But the gap has very clear and addressable drivers:

  1. Women are paid less than men for the same jobs, meaning their and their employers’ contributions are lower

  2. When a woman takes maternity leave, they lose many months or even years of saving potential, as well as career progression opportunities

  3. Women are over-represented in low-paid jobs, in sectors hit hardest by the pandemic such as hospitality, retail, leisure, tourism and the arts.

To rub salt into the wound, women outlive men by 4 years on average – a longer post work life with a smaller pension pot.

This gap is double the scale of the Gender Pay Gap, but only this year has it been reported by the British Press.


We had two clear objectives:

  1. Make the Gender Pension Gap unmissable to all – men need to take a position of allyship to support women’s battle for financial equality in the workplace.

  2. Start the debate with influential decision makers that can impact policy decisions surrounding this cause.


Simple: Be the most prominent story in social and on the news for International Women’s Day.

It’s never too early to address the Gender Pension Gap. We wanted to dramatize this by demonstrating the impact through the lens of young girls who would need to work from the age of nine to address the shortfall. We would show school-age girls’ incredulous reaction to the fact that they would have to start work now to address the pension gap.

54% of men and women are parents, with their kids, their kids’ education and future prospects being of paramount importance. Cutting short that education is a shocking idea in a country where 57% of girls go onto further education.

Fighting for inequality and inequity like this has become a mainstay of International Women’s Day. Talking about inequality and inequity like this in Britain is attention grabbing.

International Women’s Day (IWD) became our focal point to raise awareness and fuel debate.

IWD is a day created to further the rights of women. In recent years it has gained more cultural significance in the UK with greater media coverage and importance placed upon it. There is an open invitation for brands to participate in IWD and challenge the status quo. In 2021 this was encouraged though #choosetochallange, which all brands could adopt. Scottish Widows had a right to own the conversation on this day with this challenging message, especially given their origins as an organisation built to support women.

New news is what cuts through, and many memorable campaigns such as Fearless Girl, Ikea: FiftyFifty, Mars: #HereToBeHeard have all launched on this day. Sitting top of the tree for news making and sharing is social media with the press increasingly turning there for their news stories, especially on IWD.

Twitter is the home for news, with 60% of its users there with the sole purpose to consume news, and especially current affairs happening in the moment. Twitter is the place for debate and social movements, with #BlackLivesMatter being the most used hashtag of 2020. As a platform we integrated Scottish Widows into the IWD narrative and created a synonymous bond between the two.

It would also enable us to reach influential people within the pensions space, both garnering their support but also spreading the Scottish Widows message even further and into the realm of public debate.


We took ownership of all impactful Twitter formats surrounding IWD.

The day prior we ran a First View placement. First View secures all the first in-feed impressions when opening the app. We were the first ad people saw above all others the day before IWD.

We used the creative flexibility of this format to run three different pieces of video copy showing the reactions of our 9-year-olds finding out they’d need to start working now to reach equity with the boys they knew.

We rotated the three assets the day prior to ensure that we were not only the first ads users saw, but also each time they opened Twitter that day, they saw a different child’s reaction. This primed users with a range of emotive copy so on the next day (IWD) they would be ready to engage and take action themselves.

To own the moment on IWD, we ran a Spotlight placement. We booked this sought-after spot nine months in advance. Obtaining this was critical, as it completely owns the trends page of Twitter and is reserved over all other brands in the UK. Obtaining this allowed us to reach everyone who opens the app, on IWD day, with our ad.

On the day we purposely made our messages easily re-tweetable, to encourage further engagement and circulation of the brand message. All of our content had relevant hashtags, including #IWD2020, #ChooseToChallenge, #CapitalAtRisk, #GenderPensionGap. Messaging shifted too, to include the actions an individual could take to help close the Pension Gap.

To encourage contribution from opinion formers, we included a testimonial from the Scottish Widows Workplace Savings Director, Jackie Leiper, who outlined ways to come together to raise awareness and the actions we can take to close it. The inclusion of industry figure heads and their opinions actively encouraged others to share their thoughts.

We owned the trends page of Twitter before and on IWD. Importantly we knew this combination of First View and Spotlight formats would drive on +133% higher ad recall based on industry averages.

To ensure the conversation didn’t just stop once the 24-hour takeovers ended, we ran a combination of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter advertising across the entire week. Capitalizing on a mixture of their high reach placements.


IWD was one of the largest days of Twitter activity this year and Scottish Widows’ ownership of the platform on this exceeded all our expectations.

• 28m impressions and reaching a quarter of the population in 48 hours

• An engagement rate double the financial services engagement benchmark

• 81,000 actions were taken as a result of seeing our creative on Twitter

• 94% positive sentiment, something unheard of in the banking and finance industry (where social sentiment is often more negative than positive)

The campaign struck a nerve with the nation. The issue received an incredible amount of media attention. From an earned media perspective major publication including the BBC and Daily Express reported on the campaign. A multitude MPs and influencers shared our campaign message too.

Importantly the issue was raised and debated in parliament five weeks after our campaign. The £100k gender pension gap was specifically called out as the reason for the debate, and the pension minister set out a plan for closing the gap over the next five years.

This campaign was a winner at The Drum Awards for Social Media. To find out more, including which competitions are currently open for entry, visit The Drum Awards website.

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