Cannes Lions

“Equal Work, Equal Sweat, Equal Pay”


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According to the World Economic Forum, it will require 208+ years of current progress to achieve gender equality in the U.S. This societal inequity carries a quantifiable cost burden of $2 trillion in lost GDP.

In March 2019, the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) filed a game-changing gender discrimination lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation. The charge demanded equal pay for current and future female athletes - and surfaced an opportunity for Secret to impact meaningful change.

U.S. Soccer agrees male and female players are paid differently due to their collective bargaining agreements. Within these structures, a female player winning 20 matches receives 11%. The USWNT has earned four World Cup titles: one second-place finish and three third-place finishes, whereas the men’s team earned more compensation with just one quarterfinal standing.

This comparison is a key pillar of Secret’s campaign for Equal Work, Equal Sweat, Equal Pay.


Following the USWNT World Cup victory, Secret knew the public would be turning to the The New York Times sports pages – so the Brand published a full-page manifesto in the weekend edition dedicated to the USWNT’s strength and courage of conviction toward equal pay for equal work and equal sweat. Secret pledged $529,000 to the USWNT – $23,000 for each of the 23 players on the world cup winning team – to symbolically shine a light and tangibly lead the way to closing the pay gap.

A strategically choreographed, integrated, surround-sound launch featured a mix of paid media, earned media efforts, influencer content, owned social content and experiential activations to drive wide-spread support around the USWNT’s fight for equal pay.


As a sponsor of U.S. Soccer, Secret was in the rare, apt position to publicly support its players with mass awareness and dedication action. The Brand committed to its purpose and made history by affirming equal work and equal sweat deserve equal pay.

By July 2019, all eyes were on the USWNT’s successful trajectory to the 2019 World Cup, so Secret seized the opportune moment of their World Cup victory to capture public, media and industry attention for the cause. An agile, in-the-moment, purposeful PR strategy cemented Secret as a voice for pay equality in the hours after the game winning goal via a top-tier earned media rollout, charitable donation, strategically-placed print advertisement, and breadth of influencers’ social engagement.

It was a controversial move, but Secret owned the opportunity to be the first and loudest to boldly step up as an advocate and progressor of gender equality.


PR efforts sparked mass coverage in top-tier national and sports media, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CNN, Associated Press, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and Yahoo! Sports.

On July 14, 2019, The New York Times published the brand’s manifesto commitment of $23,000 to each of the 23 players of the USWNT, totaling more than one-half million dollars funded directly to players through the Players Association.

Fifteen key opinion leaders, including equal pay advocates Billie Jean King, Catt Sadler, Sophia Bush and Samira Wiley, athletes Zach Ertz and Abby Wambach and others, shared the news, fueling social shares by Katie Couric and USWNT players Alex Morgan and Allie Long.

Secret continued the news of action by working with the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) to purchase 9,000 tickets to games across the country to boost attendance at games beyond the spotlight of the World Cup.


Editorial coverage volume reached unprecedented heights and became Secret’s biggest editorial moment in history, earning 1.2K+ placements and 1.3B+ earned media reach. More than 99% of placements featured “equal pay” messaging, and Secret or P&G was in the headline in more than half of placements. Editorial coverage drove 350K+ social shares and 173MM social earned reach to become a viral sensation.

High-performing and ultra-relevant influencer content drove an additional 8.7MM+ views and an engagement rate of 4.2%, +30% more than expected, indicating content strongly resonated with a consumer audience that felt passionately about leveling the playing field.

An early blitz of coverage in high-impact outlets included CNN (87K social shares), ESPN (40K) and The New York Times (22K), and led to Secret mentions from consumers, athletes, and editors alike. This includes 42 organic mentions from high-profile figures like Arianna Huffington and Katie Couric, not to mention Alex Trebek on Jeopardy!, where Equal Pay was an answer to one of the show’s questions on Taxi TV.

The NWSL activation drove best-ever results for Secret influencer program, as measured by metrics like engagement rate (7.1%) and 1.6M new follower acquisition, creating thousands of new super fans for the brand.

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