Responses by Robyn Tenenbaum, creative director, BSSP.
Background: The purpose of this project was to raise awareness that one in two women’s health concerns go unheard. While “Hear Me” is about women and the biases they face in healthcare, it’s not just for women. It’s meant to resonate with anyone who’s ever been ignored, dismissed or treated differently because of their gender, age, body size or even the kinds of clothes they wear.
Design thinking: When it comes to our health and our bodies, women in particular get written off for so many reasons. We’re too young, too old, too heavy, not assertive enough, not whatever-enough. But asking point-blank what it would take to get someone to finally listen to us is what this spot is all about. We wanted people to stop and think: ‘Am I being heard?’ And ‘am I listening?’
Challenges: The sheer weight and importance of the subject matter itself. It struck a personal, emotional chord for so many of us. We listened to and talked with hundreds of women—all with stories facing terrible disparities in the healthcare industry. We featured Venus Williams, who had a seven-year struggle getting diagnosed with Sjögren’s syndrome, to make the point that even fame, success and resources don’t provide immunity to bias. We truly wanted to do these women justice and move the needle for change, even by just a little bit. That’s a challenging thing to do.
Favorite details: I always knew the sound mix for this spot was going to be necessary. The name “Hear Me” literally begs for sound craft. By amplifying sound and taking it away, sound became a favorite device to further drive our point home—we need to listen.
I’m also proud that we were firm in having an all-female team be the ones to make this. Our director, director of photography, photographer, line producer, producer, editor, colorist, creative director, and art and copy team were all women.
New lessons: Working on this project opened my eyes to how many women have stories, instances and experiences where they weren’t listened to by healthcare providers. Pain ignored. Concerns dismissed. Symptoms unheard. I could not believe how many stories in which not being listened to lead to years of no diagnosis, misdiagnosis or an unexpected diagnosis that could have been avoided altogether. It’s like I knew but didn’t fully know.
Divergent paths: The only thing I would do differently is to squeeze in even more stories and examples of the different biases women face—to show even further how robust of a problem this truly is.