A student take: AUT students tackle street harassment – part two

Last year, Women in Urbanism Aotearoa took our streets to social media in an enlightening Stop Street Harassment campaign. To help spread the word, the group called in the help of AUT advertising students to create their own version of the campaign. Here, Briar Wood and Hannah Bartch share their creation and thoughts on the advertising industry.

The creative brief tasked students with solving the problem of street or public harassment.

  • Read our interview with Emma McInnes, co-founder of Women in Urbanism Aotearoa and a designer at MRCagency, about the group and its campaign here.

The desired outcome was to report incidences of harassment to the Human Rights Commission, while getting people talking about it, validating women’s stories of it, and empowering the public to intervein when they see it happening.

The campaign was to include visuals and copy as well as a rationale for platforms.

Below, the creative duo of Briar Wood and Hannah Bartch, now junior creatives at Shine Limited and share their response to the brief.

What sparked your interest in getting into the industry?

Wood
We were both completing a Communications degree at AUT, which gave us the opportunity to explore many different career pathways. In our second year of study, we were able to take an advertising paper which made us realise our passion for being creatives, and eventually led to it becoming our major in our final year.

Bartch
During our degree we were given the opportunity to test multiple different papers within communications. One of our second-year choices began with an advertising creativity paper, sparking our interest in the impact and creative opportunity of the advertising industry. As we learnt more and more during our papers, eventually majoring in them, we were ecstatic to realise that we were able to pursue the content of our favourite papers as a career and to participate in the powerful world that is advertising.

Briar Wood and Hannah Bartch’s response to the brief.

From what you have seen and learned so far through study and work experience, has the industry been what you thought it would be?

Wood
Our studies gave us a passion to work in the industry and taught us everything we needed to know if we did decide to make it our career. Working in the industry has been so much better than anticipated, although we were set up with the skills and know-how through university, it has been so much better being immersed in it.

Bartch
The knowledge and amazing opportunities we were able to get out of our study time at AUT gave us a unique insight into the industry we were so keen to get into. Now with a month-and-a-half of experience in a workplace better than we could have ever hoped for, the industry is everything we thought it would be and more. We were anticipating that we would be able to get into the industry and grasp any opportunity given however it has exceeded all expectations and we are constantly learning, being thrown into the best challenges and being mentored by experienced industry professionals.

What were your first thoughts when you received the brief for the Street Harassment campaign for Women in Urbanism?

Wood
Originally we were saddened by the fact that campaigns like this need to be run in our country as sexual harassment shouldn’t be a thing at all. Once we got past that, we realised that we had been presented with an opportunity to make a change and bring light to an issue that needs addressing.

Bartch
When first presented with the brief, there were multiple emotions and thoughts that surfaced. For me, I initially felt cynical towards the parameters of the brief as I took the view that this was an issue that was going to happen regardless of anything we could do. However, upon further thought, we realised that although we may not have the power to change behaviour, we had been presented with the opportunity to empower women to act when faced with these horrendous situations. We harnessed the emotions that we faced when presented with the brief in order to execute a campaign that would be most impactful and bring attention to an often ignored issue.

How did you feel working with real stories from women who have experienced harassment?

Wood
It’s upsetting and disturbing to research and learn about all of the things that women go through on a day-to-day basis, however, reading these stories gave us even more drive to produce something that we really believe could bring about change.

Bartch
The stories and first-hand accounts are never-ending and it is extremely confronting, even triggering to read about the experiences of other women and peers. The stories are at the centre of our campaign as they highlight the raw reality of what women in Auckland and wider New Zealand, experience every single day. Although working with them and sourcing them was difficult, it was the exact kind of confrontational material that is needed to shed light on the issue, because the issue itself is unpleasant and confronting.

Sexual harassment is not something everyone has experienced, so where do you go to get an understanding of it if you haven’t experienced it for yourself?

Wood
We found that it’s hard to find these stories unless you’re actively looking, and we understand that not many people are going to google “what is it like for women who have experienced sexual harassment?”. There seems to be a missing space in New Zealand for things like this and because of that, there’s not a specific place for people to get an understanding.

Bartch
A significant issue when attempting to form a campaign that sheds light on the issue of sexual harassment, is that victims are made to feel as if their experience is not significant, not worth bringing to light. It is a rarity to find accounts and publicised accounts of sexual harassment and even those who are brave enough to come forward are still met with belittling responses and backlash. To find information about accounts of sexual harassment, one would have to be actively looking, it was this very reason that we formed the idea for a platform with the exact purpose of reporting, informing and support.

Can you explain the idea behind the campaign you two created?

Wood
As stated above, we understood that there is a missing space in New Zealand to have real and raw conversations about sexual harassment. We wanted to present New Zealanders with real stories, from real women, about sexual harassment that they endured when using public transport.

Bartch
We know from personal experience that incidents of harassment, unfortunately, occur every day and whether minor or major, they are significant to the individual. Due to the common nature of sexual harassment in our everyday, we know that different victims can endure the same experiences in the same locations, sometimes even the same offender. Our idea aims to combat the feelings of isolation and provide a platform for victims to report their experiences in a way that can correlate common locations and narrow down potential repeat offenders. The idea was also to provide a feeling of “Strength in numbers”, support following the incidents and somewhere to be heard instead of dismissed.

As a creative, do you see your role as being one that can spark change in the world?

Wood
We both like to say that we are “changing the world one ad at a time” so yes, we do see the potential for us to do things that can spark change. We have essentially been given the perfect platform to do so and that is something that we intend on doing.

Bartch
Briar and I began saying “Changing the world one brief at a time” during our degree.  The opportunities we have been provided since, have allowed us to see what we thought was a bold claim, become a reality. Our passion lies in the projects we can take and apply our creativity to, from a unique angle. Most importantly, projects that allow us to spark social change and impact the world we are lucky enough to live in for the better. The amazing partners that our employer Shine Limited works with will hopefully allow us to do this in the near future.

What advice do you have for those considering a future in the advertising industry?

Wood
Just do it. Both of us went into the advertising major without certainty that it would be what we wanted to do forever but after completing it and getting a job in the industry we knew we made the right decision.

Bartch
If studying a degree that leads to the advertising industry, I would say whether you are a suit or a creative, you have to seek and take absolutely every opportunity possible. Meet everyone you can and go anywhere that is possible or even seems impossible. Advice for once you are in the industry, would be that every idea is a possibility  There is always something in it and collaboration is the best for facilitating that, so adventure down every avenue creatively and professionally and just enjoy it because it is one of the best places you could end up.

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