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Bittersweet Pies

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Paul has a vested interest in ensuring that women are reaching their full personal and professional potential. Females make up the vast majority of Paul’s consumer base and have been the bakery’s biggest supporters as it has grown across Bucharest. This is unlikely to change as Paul expands outside of its home base. 

It is discouraging then, to see the results of the annual Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum released right before Paul’s national expansion. Out of 145 countries included in the report, Romania falls 113th in matters of women’s political representation and also scores low in education, health and finance. Compounding this issue is the fact that women’s general attitude is that equality isn’t a problem.  

Paul wanted to start a conversation, not only with women but all of Romania. The perception is false and the issues are real, immediate and must be acknowledged by everyone across the country.  


The difficulty with getting regular women to acknowledge the gender gap comes from the fact that when these reports come out, the news media trots out the same editorialists and scholars for reaction – and they make the conversation as ugly and unforgettable as possible. This is a discussion that no one wants to continue or take part in because it is more convenient to just ignore them and the problem.  

Instead, UM wondered if there was a way to make the conversation more palatable and take ownership of the topic from the privileged and give it to the people it affects most. With Paul, it wanted to change the medium for the conversation and put the simple truth right in front of women. In short, it realised that it could help women take a bite out of the gender gap and created a new product line to help women realise the enormity of the situation: The Bittersweet Pies.  

Using Paul’s existing popular recipes, the agency made pie charts from the Gender Gap Report’s data and turned them into actual pies. It created the "salary gap" cake, the "misrepresentation cake" (in politics), the "extremely rich cake" and the "startup exclusion cake.” The more you eat them, the more you help to fight inequality: Five percent from each Bittersweet Pie sold would be donated to the FILIA foundation to prepare women for the modern workplace. And for women, each time they bit the “negative” segment of the pie, they could see the “positive” segment of the statistic growing even bigger.  


While the idea was built to go viral, the message needed to make it to places where the ugly truth needed to be acknowledged. The campaign started in places where changes need to be made. Billboards outside Parliament of Romania, for example, acknowledged that 88% of political representation is made up of men versus 12% for women. In announcing the new Bittersweet Pies product line, it turned the press release into its own pie and included a second pie with the gap status in their own area of coverage.  

As the story spread online through key opinion leaders and social networks, it became a hot topic in top TV news programmes. And as quickly as it was picked up inside Romania’s borders, it moved even faster outside of it, making its way into the pages of Cosmopolitan, Fast Company and New York magazine and was acknowledged by the UN. Bittersweet Pies inspired people not only in Romania but all over the world to question their perceptions and look differently and more profoundly on gender gap in their country. 


While the facts on gender gap are tough to swallow, everyone across Romania acknowledged the bittersweet results of this campaign. Paul’s cakes were the centerpiece of a conversation that need to happen and became the first-ever “social media” dessert line in the world.  

At a time when Paul was expanding and in its biggest need for positive momentum, the brand saw a 45% INCREASE in positive brand perception. Paul even became a global sensation, accruing 36,460,100 million impressions and 73,000 shares exclusively in Facebook.  

Perhaps most meaningful of all, it helped raise the amount of regular funds needed for the FILIA foundation by 10x, helping the organisation continue its brave mission of educating women and helping them find success by fighting through the glass ceiling in their new professions.

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April - May 2016
McCann Worldgroup
Media Channel:
Direct Marketing,Online,Out-of-Home,PR
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