“Can you imagine a world where no mother dies giving birth,” asks Merck for Mothers, the website of the biopharmaceutical company Merck’s 10-year, $500 million global initiative focusing on the health and well-being of mothers during pregnancy and childbirth.
“That’s the Promise of Merck for Mothers,” the website stated. “Working together with committed partners, we believe we can help make pregnancy and childbirth a safe, healthy, and joyful experience for women.”
To honor International Women’s Day, the company unveiled “Push” on March 8. The film shares the perspectives of three different expecting mothers from around the world.
In collaboration with social impact-focused agency Matter Unlimited and director collective Whitelist, the 3 minute film serves as the launch film for Merck’s “All for Mothers” campaign. The film helps illustrate the crucial role of private sector support in public sector issues and aims to inspire new public and private sector partners to join the initiative.
By giving a voice to the women affected by maternal mortality, and advocating for change, “Push” artistically reflects Merck for Mothers’ mission to end maternal mortality.
The name of the film also plays on a request from the company:
“PUSH this film to the top of your social feeds. PUSH to show everyone this is still an issue. PUSH your friends to share it. PUSH your local policy makers to pay attention. Whatever you do today, PUSH. Let’s all PUSH until maternal mortality is a thing of the past.”
DIVERGE talked to the Matter Unlimited, Merck for Mothers, and Whitelist to find out the whole story behind the new campaign:
Where did the idea for this campaign come from?
Alexandra Gordon, Managing Director at Matter Unlimited: The goal of our work is to help Merck inspire new public and private sector partners to join the Merck for Mothers initiative in its quest to end maternal mortality. Originally we were focused on a VR film to use for influencer audience and policy makers, but as we went through the creative process it became clear we had the opportunity to create a brand platform for the program to signify both the universal motivation and collaborative approach of the initiative.
Our clients gave us tremendous creative freedom and trusted us to develop something that could be emotionally compelling to carry their initiative into the next five years and drive further success. We wanted to create a universal view of the journey to motherhood and allow people to walk in the shoes of a pregnant woman.
Why is International Women’s day the perfect time to launch this campaign?
Gordon: We wanted to use the passion and attention International Women’s Day creates to bring awareness to this issue. Because every woman deserves to feel joy for the new life she is bringing into the world not fear for her own.
Who is the team behind the ad?
Gordon: It was created by Matter Unlimited and produced by Whitelist.
We couldn’t imagine a better or more collaborative partner. Spencer and the Whitelist team delivered passion and professionalism from day 1. This project was very special for us and the whole team went to great lengths in terms of research and production to make “Push” emotionally impactful and memorable. We all felt a great responsibility representing an issue like this and it was evident in every step of the way. We felt confident that Spencer and the team could help us truly deliver a film that would give an impression of what it was like to walk in these women’s shoes, thus creating a universal story. Together, we were able to do exactly that.
Why is it so important to focus on maternal mortality?
Dr. Mary-Ann Etiebet, Executive Director of Merck for Mothers: Every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy and childbirth. That’s approximately 800 women a day. Most of these deaths are preventable when women have access to quality maternal health care before, during, and after childbirth. When a woman dies in childbirth, the ripple effect on her family and community are enormous: her baby is ten times more as likely to die before age two and her other children are up to 10 times more likely to leave school, suffer from poor health, or die prematurely.
Why is this so important to Merck?
Etiebet: As a global healthcare company, Merck created Merck for Mothers to address this critically important issue. Merck for Mothers is our 10-year, $500 million initiative aimed at taking on the tough global healthcare challenge of reducing preventable maternal mortality worldwide. Merck for Mothers is providing transformational and sustainable solutions focused on improving the quality of maternal health care women receive at a health facility and increasing women’s access to family planning.
Through Merck for Mothers, we align ourselves with the right partners to make a difference, and today on International Women’s Day, we are asking maternal health advocates everywhere to help us make a difference by sharing our video and bringing attention to the issue.
How can others that want to get involved help?
Gordon: Share our video to show you are #AllforMothers and that together we can #EndMaternalMortality. If your business or organization wants to join the fight visit merckformothers.com to find out how to become a partner.
How long did this take to film?
Spencer Creigh, Director at Whitelist: It was shot over a month in different locations. I cannot overstate just how rewarding it is when everyone is willing to truly collaborate with us on a project and we all share the same passion and resolve for the work we are creating together.
Whitelist Executive Producer Jerad Anderson: Everyone involved in this campaign was aware of how ambitious it was when we began and we knew from day one that we were going to have to really push the conventions of how we make things to execute this vision. We cannot give Matter Unlimited enough credit for their willingness to collaborate and their open-mindedness for us to break convention, which is what we pride ourselves on doing at Whitelist, to execute this piece.
Working on this project must have been pretty emotional- What was the best part? The hardest part?
Creigh: This shoot was an incredibly challenging and rewarding process; a flurry of excitement, tedium, emotions and exhaustion. From the beginning we were all very cognizant of the sensitivity of the subject matter, and moreover, of our role as vessels for these amazing women to bring their own emotions, psychological perspectives and experiences to the piece. This process of allowing ourselves to surrender to real circumstances and impulses, and to look at ‘imperfections’ not as failures but as beautiful idiosyncrasies, ultimately created a deeper and more cohesive sense of realism in the final piece.
Client: Merck for Mothers
Lead: Dr. Naveen Rao
Director of Communications: Heather Stamatacos
Director of Strategic Partnerships: Mark Allen
Agency: Matter Unlimited
CEO: Robert Holzer
Managing Director: Alexandra Gordon
Director of Production: Ashley Jamieson
Creative Director: Shabazz Larkin
Creative Director: Ahmer Kalam
Account Executive: Alison Kidd
Director of Strategy: Jackie Prince
Production Company: Whitelist
Director: Spencer Creigh
Executive Producer: Jerad Anderson
Head of Production: Matt Griffo
Head of Creative: Colin Moore
Producer: Jefferis Gray