Toronto’s newest agency was formed with a startup mentality, complemented by a commitment to craft and design.
Toronto’s newest agency, Hard Work Club, is launching this week, with its commitment to breakthrough craft and design on full display.
The agency is launching with a new Mother’s Day campaign for the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “The Mother Rising” is a powerful 90-second spot that calls for justice and equality—rather than just brunch or flowers—for moms.
The spot was specifically created to capture the nuance missing from so many portrayals of mothers in advertising and culture, where mothers are often presented as one-dimensional caregivers, carrying out chores like laundry or the dishes.
It consists of a series of shots of mothers (and expectant mothers) and their children, with a voiceover asking for justice for those who are for putting in the care work, whether they’re adoptive, adaptive or on-the-frontline mothers who are working overtime. “Let’s see the strength she carries,” the voiceover states. “Help her rise up.”
Women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, currently spending an average of 95 hours per week in caregiving roles. That has led to elevated levels of depression and anxiety, with 35% of mothers reporting symptoms of depression last year, up from 19% pre-pandemic according to Statistics Canada.
“There’s never been a more important time to focus on diverse mothers and family caregivers in Canada,” says Andrea Gunraj, Vice President of Public Engagement at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. “The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on them has been dire, especially for those facing multiple barriers such as racism, poverty, and gender-based violence. This campaign opens space for them to tell their stories without judgement, to be angry and frustrated at the ways they’re expected to hold it together with such little support, and share what systemic changes need to happen so they can have a better future. This isn’t just a mothers issue; this is an all-of-us issue and it’s time for us to rise up with them”
The video was created by an all-female crew headed by director Kimberley Veitch, who has dedicated her career to empowering women and raising awareness of social injustice against women. The spot challenges how mothers are portrayed, showing them as nuanced, strong and resilient.
“It was important for us to launch with a campaign that was meaningful to us personally, and a call for positive change,” says Hard Work Club partner, creative director, Meghan Kraemer, one of three founders of the agency, alongside partner, creative director, design Christian Buer and Cameron Stark, partner, growth and operations. “The pandemic laid bare the challenges facing mothers like never before, exposing ‘balance’ for the falsehood it is. We believe mothers and the work of motherhood should be put in a new light.”
Adopting the philosophy that “change is worth changing for,” Hard Work Club is the result of a longstanding association between Kraemer and Buer, who first studied together at OCADU more than a decade ago. The pair met Stark when they worked together at The Hive in 2015 as the leads on the Coca-Cola account, and the trio realized they shared the same goals and career objectives.
“We want to create the best work of our lives, free from the complications and roadblocks some traditional agency models present,” says Buer. “We want to work with likeminded clients and organizations that align with our values and desire to do things differently. Category disruption is the stuff our dreams are made of.”
“We’re all no-nonsense, heart-on-our-sleeves type people, and for one reason or another we’ve spent our careers thus far feeling a little bit like outsiders,” adds Stark. “We’re not interested in ‘playing the game’—we want to make work we’re proud of, for clients we believe in.”
“The Mother Rising” is being supported by donated media including digital pre-roll, and the Instagram feeds of several well-known “momfluencers.” The Canadian Women’s Foundation is also running the video on its social media channels.
Title: The Mother Rising
Client: Canadian Women’s Foundation
Senior Director, Public Engagement: Sarah Ruddle
Vice President, Public Engagement: Andrea Gunraj
Vice President, Philanthropy: Suzanne Duncan
Agency: Hard Work Club
Creative Directors/Creative Team: Meghan Kraemer, Christian Buer
Agency Producer: Sam Benson
Business Lead: Cameron Stark
Production Company: Fela
Managing Partners/Executive Producers: Director X, Taj Critchlow
Chief Operating Officer: Dean Rosen
Head of Production: Amir Karimi
Production Manager: Keisha Beattie
Director: Kimberley Veitch
Assistant Director: angelicamilash
Producer: Mikayla Fusollo
Director of Photography: Nina Djacic
First AC: Avigal Levona
Second AC: Alissa Dawn
Gaffer: Rory Sommerville-Bathmaker
Key Grip: Asmaa Er-Rouhi
Swing: Hala Sadovy
Makeup Artist: Temi Shobowale
Key Production Assistant: Ariel Hughes
Covid Coordinator: Pouria Midavoodi
Casting: Jesse Griffiths Casting/Jesse Griffiths
Editing House: School Editing
Executive Producer: Yumi Suyama
Editor: Lauren Horn
Colour/Online: Studio Feather
Executive Producer: Sara Windrim
Producer: Rebeca Ortiz
Colourist: Ana Escorse
Kinetic Typography Artist: Sonia Ruffolo
Audio House: SNDWRx
Executive Producer: Alison Lawee
Music/Mix: Didier Tovel