JWT Creates Site Urging Dads to Talk to Sons About Respecting Women

Shop's Canadian Office Developed Initiative in Response to Stanford Rape Case

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From JWT's #20minutesofaction4change campaign
From JWT's #20minutesofaction4change campaign Credit: J. Walter Thompson
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J. Walter Thompson Canada is kicking off an initiative called #20minutesofaction4change on June 19 -- Father's Day -- aimed at getting dads to talk to their sons about boundaries and respecting women.

20minutesofaction4change.org, which urges "#DadsWhoGiveADamn" to pledge to take 20 minutes to talk to their sons about sexual consent, was created in "response to the deplorable use of the term '20 minutes of action' by the Stanford rapist's father," the site states.

Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was convicted in March of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman and received only six months in jail despite facing up to 14 years, a sentence that caused public outrage as well as protests.

After the sentencing, Dan A. Turner, father of Brock, wrote a letter to the judge about how his son should only receive probation. "His life will never be the one that he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve," he wrote. "That is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life."

The idea for the website came about because Ryan Spelliscy, chief creative officer of J. Walter Thompson Toronto, who has two sons, said Mr. Turner's phrase really upset him and other fathers at the agency. "We said as dads we should turn this guy's expression on its head and start taking responsibility and talking to our sons as fathers," said Mr. Spelliscy. "There have been so many great groups of women who have done things in this space but when do us dads take ownership and say it's on us to sit down with our sons and lead by example?"

Mr. Spelliscy added that the #DadsWhoGiveADamn group "absolutely can and will live on for a very long time" because it's not just "one little response campaign."

In order to get fathers outside of the agency to take the pledge, JWT will promote the initiative on social media and try to get celebrity dads involved. The shop is also in the planning stages for a video around the effort that will release online.

While Mr. Spelliscy declined to disclose specific details at the moment, he said some clients and advocacy groups have expressed interest in the initiative, which means it's "resonating already and it hasn't even officially launched yet."

He said that he hopes other agencies get involved as well. "It's not an idea that should be clung to by one agency," said Mr. Spelliscy. "There are dads at every agency in the world, so there's no reason why everyone in the industry can't get involved in something like this."