This is Lauren. Lauren is 260 weeks pregnant.
“A Long Five Years,” a PSA by advertising creatives working with Biscuit Filmworks, recounts an absurd story with a prickly edge. Below, find out why a clearly encumbered woman would decide to keep a baby inside her well past the due date:
The film was created for the National Partnership for Women & Families, and it touches on a number of sore points: Neither Lauren nor her husband have paid family leave, so Lauren stockpiles vacation and sick days so she can give birth when her baby turns 6. (Ouch.)
The spot also points out that nearly every country—certainly every developed country—has paid family leave, with the glaring exception of the United States.
“Besides, what’s the better option? America having a national paid leave policy? That’s crazy,” says the voiceover—by actress and activist Sophia Bush, who donated her time to the project.
“Lauren is every person in our country who has struggled with having to balance work and the inevitabilities of life without the support of a national paid leave policy,” creative director Jessica Coulter tells AdFreak. She adds that the stakes extend to more than pregnant women and their families. It also includes couples who adopt, and people who are caring for infirm loved ones, or who are sick themselves.
Inspiration for the ad came from the Makers Conference, Coulter goes on.
“After a breakout session led by vice president Vicki Shabo of the National Partnership for Women & Families about the lack of national paid leave in our country, I felt moved to approach her about making something that could get the issue noticed and evoke change,” she says.
Coulter’s creative partner, writer Eli Terry, jumped aboard, along with broadcast producer Tara Leinwohl and director Aaron Stoller of Biscuit. “From conception to finishing, every hand that touched the film did so with complete willingness and love for the cause—and without the bureaucracy that comes with being an ‘official’ advertising project,” Coulter says.
“It was one of those special days,” Stoller muses of the shoot. “Everyone rolled up their sleeves and got it done with a smile on their face. I just hope our poor actor’s back is OK—the prosthetic was super heavy.”
Wry smiles aside, the team hopes “A Long Five Years” will trigger action from lawmakers and the public by confronting them with “the absurd reality too many working people and families face,” says Shabo, who represents the organization.
“Millions of people like Lauren are being forced to choose between their health, families and jobs every day. The consequences for families, businesses and our economy are real. Lawmakers who claim to value families need to take a hard look at our nation’s truly absurd paid leave crisis, and commit to advancing a comprehensive solution.”
Citizens especially have a vested interest in saying something. “We shouldn’t accept an America where nearly one-quarter of new moms are back at work within two weeks of giving birth, or where an adult child who leaves the workforce to care for a parent forgoes an estimated $300,000 in income and retirement savings,” Shabo says.
Unsurprisingly, it’s a widely-supported idea. Some “82 percent of 2016 voters—including 95 percent of Democrats, 84 percent of independents and 70 percent of Republicans—say it is important for the President and Congress to consider a national paid family and medical leave law,” Shabo says. “People must keep up the drumbeat for change.”
What’s more, there are no excuses; the concept isn’t experimental.
“Most other countries and a handful of U.S. states have figured it out. Businesses of all sizes understand the benefits of paid leave. And we know what works and what a national program should look like,” Shabo adds.
The ad concludes by telling us that 86 percent of Americans have jobs that don’t provide family leave, and that we can change this—assuming the current administration is compelled to listen.
“The fact that the U.S. is practically the only country in the world that does not have a national paid leave policy is nearly laughable, if it wasn’t incredibly distressing,” says Terry. “Using a hyperbolic scenario—a woman who has spent the last five years basically doing one giant kegel to keep a first-grader in her uterus because she can’t afford to have her baby—made sense to get our point across. And if a 260-week pregnant woman doesn’t move people to act, we don’t know what will.”
Client: National Partnership for Women & Families
Debra L. Ness, President
Vicki Shabo, Vice President
Sadie Kliner, Deputy Communications Director
Jessica Coulter, Creative Director
Eli Terry, Creative Director
Tara Leinwohl, Executive Producer
Production: Biscuit Filmworks
Aaron Stoller, Director
Monica Lenczewska, DP
Shawn Lacy, Managing Director
Holly Vega, Executive Producer
Rachel Glaub, Head of Production
Mercedes Allen-Sarria, Head of Production
Mala Vasan, Producer
Peter Owen, Production Supervisor
Tim Moen, Production Designer
Editorial: Arcade Edit
Geoff Hounsell, Editor
Damian Stevens, Managing Partner
Crissy DeSimone, Executive Producer
Kirsten Thon-Webb, Head of Production
Adam Becht, Sr. Producer
Laura Sanford, Assistant Editor
Brian Shneider, Lead Flame
Austin Lewis, Flame Assist
Gabriel Valente Ferrao, Designer
Lauren Loftus, VFX Producer
Sabrina Elizondo, Executive Producer
Bryan Smaller, Colorist
Ashley McKim, Executive Producer
Adam Van Wagner, Producer
Jeff Malen, Mixer
Susie Boyajan, EP
Robert DiPietro, Composer
Sara Matarazzo, Executive Music Producer
Julianne Wilson, Music Producer