‘Sexist’ Covid-19 ad linked to digital agency Topham Guerin

MullenLowe ‘not involved’ in producing illustration that raised hackles over portrayal of gender roles.

Coronavirus ad: withdrawn on Thursday
Coronavirus ad: withdrawn on Thursday

Topham Guerin, a specialist digital agency with Conservative Party links, is thought to have been responsible for creating the illustration that was pulled from the latest ‘Stay home’ work.

The picture sparked complaints because it showed domestic tasks being handled by women while the only man featured was relaxing on a sofa. The government swiftly withdrew it yesterday (Thursday), admitting it did not reflect its views on women.

Topham Guerin is understood to play a key role in managing No10’s social media and digital output, and was involved in handling the Conservatives' 2019 general election messaging. 

It was founded by two male New Zealanders, Sean Topham and Ben Guerin, in 2016. 

Campaign's sister title, PRWeek, reported last year that the agency was appointed to handle a £3m contract for the government’s coronavirus messaging without a competitive tender – as allowed by emergency pandemic regulations – in early 2020. 

MullenLowe, which handles advertising for the government’s coronavirus campaigns, declined to comment to Campaign but said it was not involved in creating the work.

Topham Guerin declined to comment beyond referring Campaign to the government’s statement yesterday that "The infographic has been withdrawn and removed from the campaign and does not reflect the government's view on women".

The Cabinet Office, which oversees government coronavirus campaigns, also declined to comment further. 

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