Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?
Standard Chartered wanted to raise awareness for gender pay equality, by highlighting one of the highest gaps in the world of art. Instead of the usual CSR communication, it created an immersive experience: Art Gap - a four-day exhibition featuring paintings by local female artists that were deliberately left 47.6% incomplete – representing the shocking pay gap between female and male artists, as per the University of Oxford study.
Using the paintings themselves as an innovative channel, the world saw our message through media, influencers, and artists. This resulted in exceptional figures in awareness, engagement and sales.
Standard Chartered Bank is ‘Here For Good’. A brand’s promise to improve the communities it operates in. And they walk the talk: In 2017, they instituted the Fair Pay Charter, pledging to pay men and women equally. In 2019, they were recognized on the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for the fourth year.
Beyond supporting female empowerment initiatives within the bank, they wanted to raise awareness for gender pay equality among CEOs and CFOs in the UAE. One alarming fact surfaced: A global study led by the University of Oxford - Saïd Business School highlighted that works by women artists sell for 47.6% less than those by men. The press reported it. Then the world moved on.
The bank felt that this was not good enough. It was time for action, not words.
Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)
On 8 March 2019 - International Women’s Day, companies showcased their women staff. SCB announced the Art Gap Exhibition.
If women are going to be paid 47.6% less, they will paint 47.6% less.
SCB brought together a collective of 19 Emirati and expat women artists from 11 nationalities to add their voices to the global gender parity conversation. They showcased their best art pieces, but this time, incomplete. They painted 47.6% less of their canvas, matching the exact percentage of their pay gap.
People forget statistics. But the blank space on the canvas highlighted what the world would miss if it didn’t treat women and men equally. The sum of 19 incomplete paintings created a powerful visual statement to raise awareness for gender pay inequality across industries.
The Art Gap Exhibition was an action taken by bold women, creatively leveraging scientific research to bring about change.
Describe the strategy (20% of vote)
Insight: Gender pay equality stories are always about percentages, never human interest.
There were more than 175K mentions of the hashtag #PayGap on twitter alone in the past three years. Many global centres of knowledge acknowledge the disparity of gender pay in the world across different industries. Google #fempowerment and enjoy a myriad of CSR initiatives and communication campaigns around gender pay equality. All smartly crafted and wittingly copywritten.
Talk has resulted in more talk. But attitudes need to change. We chose to do this through awareness.
Our audience wasn’t limited by borders. Our target was a mindset. While everyone talks, the best way to stand out is visually. Who better than artists to bring this disparity to life?
Trusting ‘seeing is believing’, the strategy boiled down to making people see, literally, the art pay gap and the injustice it perpetuates.
Describe the execution (30% of vote)
World Art Dubai is the Middle East’s largest affordable art fair (3-6 April 2019) with 18,000 visitors at Dubai World Trade Centre. The choice to make Art Gap part of a bigger exhibition was strategic - drive footfall, reach the art industry and attract visiting media.
One woman inspires another. That’s why the artist Batool Jafri, winner of Emirates Woman of the Year 2018 in the ‘Art & Culture’ category, was the curator for Art Gap.
To ensure credibility for artist statements and videos, an independent Instagram account was created after special dispensation. Our VIP invitees spoke at the opening seminar of World Art Dubai. The bank’s top 50 clients came to meet the artists. Visitors signed the Pledge Book for equal pay. Young artists were given incomplete canvases to add their voices. A coffee-table book was mailed to Priority Clients and the exhibition lives online at art-gap.com.
List the results (30% of vote)
+10,000 visitors attended, including dignitaries like Director-General of the Dubai Department of Information, Deputy CEO of the Securities & Commodities Authority, senior representatives from UN Women, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and UK Trade Commission.
+7,500 pledges for equal pay.
USD 20,000 for 19 artworks, although sales wasn’t an objective.
USD 1.4million in earned media, including BBC Arabic, Thomson Reuters, VICE Arabia, Design TAXI, Toronto Sun Times, Thrive Global, Branding News, Zee TV, Al Hurra TV, China Arab TV, Gulf News.
+20 million social media impressions.
On invitation, the exhibition moved to the prestigious Dubai International Financial Centre (24 April - 8 May).
Art Gap is now a movement, with exhibitions planned at Oxford University and key markets to bring each country’s pay gap to the heart of the conversation: South Korea 34.6%; India 29%; Pakistan 48.4%; Kenya 65%, Indonesia 40.6%.