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case studies
10 . 05 . 18

Cutting the gender pay gap crap with the power of print

Words by: Print Power
In our latest print case study, we explore how ROTHCO’s “pet project” diary not only brought an intangible issue into sharp relief, but highlighted the power of print – and became a piece of cultural history.
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The power of print at a glance

  • Print media can bring intangible issues into focus
  • A smart idea, well executed in print, can be arresting

From #MeToo to #timesup, the women’s movement has already occupied a fair few column inches over the past 12 months.

When ROTHCO heard rumours that it could take 100 years to close the gender pay gap, the Dublin-based agency decided to acknowledge this by contributing to the wider conversation on International Womens Day. “It really stopped us in our tracks,” says Elaine Joyce, a copywriter at the company.

We wanted to use our creative  skills to shine a light on the issue,” explains Joyce. “Our brief: empower influential women to consign the pay gap to the history books, not pay cheques.”

Their response was to create The Page Gap, a bespoke Smythson diary that has seven weeks – or 49 days – of the year marked with a “Not Paid” stamp.

Seven weeks is the average amount of time that women in OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries effectively work unpaid per year, compared to men.

ROTHCO also threw in a bookmark including a few inspirational words (below).

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“The pay gap can seem an intangible thing – hard to talk about and hard to stop. We wanted to create a physical object that made it more real,” says Joyce, when asked why she and the team decided to use print media.

We wanted to create something beautiful, with cut-through, that you would keep – and that acted as a daily reminder.”

So, for a 60-strong group of recipients – influential women ROTHCO knew could help affect change – The Page Gap brought into sharp focus an issue many other media platforms would have struggled to wrestle out of obscurity.

“Right now there’s a natural drive towards online when brands want to start a conversation, mainly because it’s where audiences are and its a place where others can respond. But a good idea that’s well executed in print can be really arresting. And I think for brands – and for us at ROTHCO – print is always a consideration for our ideas..”

Press outlets including Little Black Book, Ads of the World and The Drum all picked up on the idea, and women of power – particularly the 60 that received the diary – spread the word across social media.


But success for The Page Gap hasn’t been measured against clicks or impressions.

“It’s about arming people with the facts to have these conversations. To break the silence. It’s about giving them the confidence to speak to their peers,” says Joyce.

“Any way we can help to make the pay gap history is a success,” she adds.

In one sense, the agency has succeeded in doing just that – the diary has been archived by the Library of Congress, marking this ingenious piece of print marketing an artefact of cultural significance.

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