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Fear of spike in sexual harassment cases behind eerie TimeTo campaign

Ad industry group TimeTo has launched a campaign to highlight concerns that a return to the office will spark a rise in reports of sexual harassment in the ad industry.

At the heart of the push is a film created by Lucky Generals that shows a montage of eerily empty and quiet office spaces. As the ad plays, real-life accounts from a diverse range of women and men who have experienced sexual harassment (anonymized and paraphrased to protect them) are dubbed over the top.

Examples of stories include, “She used to call me at three o’clock in the morning after a night out and ask me to come round,” and, “He asked if I was late because I’d been sucking someone off.”

“Too many people have memories of unacceptable and bullying behavior in our offices from before the pandemic. It is gut-wrenching to find that nearly half the industry is worried that the physical return to work will also precipitate a return to predatory, sexually-motivated harassment. Half-empty offices represent an enhanced risk. There are ghosts in too many corridors, kitchens and meeting rooms,” explained Helen Calcraft, founder at Lucky Generals.

“We feel this is the right time to appeal to agency leaders to do more to institute a zero-tolerance approach and be the change we need by investing in training to transform adland’s culture from top to bottom. We wanted to give those who have suffered a voice and a platform, to remind us all that this kind of bullying and diminishing behavior is deeply damaging. We have to accelerate the eradication of sexual harassment. It truly is time to draw the line.”

During the pandemic, instances of sexual harassment in the ad industry reduced significantly. But recent research from TimeTo found that half (49%) of all people in advertising think sexual harassment will be more of an issue now that people are returning to offices.

TimeTo is urging business leaders to sign up for its sexual harassment training.

Kerry Glazer at TimeTo said: “So much has been said about the desire not to return to the ‘old normal’ and the will to ‘build back better.’ One thing we cannot tolerate is the resumption of historic predatory behavior. Our world-class training gives businesses a simple cost-effective tool to tackle this invidious issue at its core.”

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