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Industry leaders react to Roe v Wade reversal

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By Audrey Kemp | Junior Reporter

June 24, 2022 | 7 min read

As adland wraps its final day at the Cannes Lions festival, news broke in the US that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision granting the constitutional right to abortion. The news comes after a draft majority opinion was leaked in May, which galvanized thousands to rally in demonstrations nationwide. Leading agency executives, some of them women and mothers, shared their immediate thoughts on the decision with The Drum.

“As a woman, a mother of daughters, and a CEO with female employees, this ruling just opened the door for the US government to impede on the personal decisions of the American people. It's unacceptable. Moreover, we've just made it exponentially more difficult for women and people who become pregnant to advance in their education and careers. This is not only a social issue; it is an economic one with far-reaching consequences we've yet to realize. For those of us in the marketing, advertising and public relations industries, we are storytellers at heart. This is a moment in time that needs stories and voices and facts to push through the cacophony of political bullshit. If the only way through this fight is through it, then that is our greatest tool. We best get to it." - Leah Hacker, founder and chief executive officer at Rebel

“[This is] a sad day for America, a sad day for women, and a big step back for gender equality. Equality in the workplace is one of the most important business issues of our time, and we believe that restricting access to comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion, threatens the health, independence and economic stability of our employees and clients." - David Jones, founder and chief executive officer at The Brandtech Group

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abortion backers hold up signs that read "my body my choice" and "bans off our bodies"

Brand leaders voice their thoughts and concerns on the Roe v Wade decision and how it may affect marketing / Adobe Stock

"We are singularly focused on supporting our people through this transition. While we cannot predict how abortion access will evolve in the coming months, or even years, Stagwell believes employees should have access to excellent healthcare, regardless of their location. We are taking immediate steps that will expand our network travel benefits to give employees access to the nearest approved reproductive healthcare provider in a legally permissible way. We hope this travel benefit will provide employees located in states that have implemented new restrictions on reproductive rights with access to care.” - Mark Penn, chairman and chief executive officer at Stagwell Group

“After an inspiring week, seeing award-winning work for the protection and education of the underrepresented, especially women, it was a punch in the gut to see the US go back 50 years. Guns in the US literally have more rights than a woman does over her own body. I hope that the power of creativity can lead us into a brighter, freer future.” - Samira Ansari, chief creative officer at Deutsch NY

“As a women-owned and run business, this is a very sad day. We are all gutted. I’ve been messaging with employees both past and present, sharing our rage and dismay and plotting what we can do to channel our anger into something productive.” - Danielle Wiley, founder and chief executive officer at Sway Group

"W+K supports the right to reproductive freedom. We will never stop working to create a safe place for one another. We cover abortion care at no cost to our employees and will continue to do so. If an employee, their partner or dependents live in a state where access to an abortion becomes restricted or banned, we will cover the travel expenses to a state where this is available, legal and safe. This is a sad day in America. Let’s take care of each other in every way we know how." - Spokesperson for Wieden+Kennedy

"I feel enraged – enraged that we can erase 50 years of precedent and progress, and enraged that the women in our company, around the country and specifically women in the most vulnerable communities have lost a fundamental freedom overnight … This will cause so many women to die, so many futures to be sacrificed, so many dreams to be killed and, of course, it means the gender gap will continue to widen … It didn't used to be appropriate to talk about these types of issues in the workplace. That is now out the window — these conversations are front and center. As a result, companies and brands are under pressure from their employees and from their customers to take a stance. Neutrality becomes less of an option every day and I think that will have a lasting impact on how brands communicate when they speak up, and how their customers hold them accountable for doing so." - Lauren Nutt Bello, managing partner and president at Ready Set Rocket

“It’s critically important that anyone with a uterus knows that this ruling does not make it illegal to get an abortion in every state. Resources like abortionfinder.org will help you find legal places and means to get access to abortions.” - Stevie Archer, executive creative director at SS+K

McCann referred The Drum to a statement it previously issued: “We see this issue clearly through the lens of women’s rights to healthcare. We support a woman’s right to choose, and more broadly, to enjoy access to the other critical medical services, including access to birth control, cancer screenings and other treatments, that women need. We will not stand on the sidelines as individual states pass legislation that restrict or erase a woman’s access to the very same healthcare that our women employees enjoy in other states. We are working to ensure all women employees of McCann Worldgroup continue to have access to the same range of healthcare services they have enjoyed for many years … McCann Worldgroup will do the same.” - McCann Worldgroup leadership team

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