Pregnant Then Screwed launch ‘A Cry For Help’ campaign

The work, created by Saatchi & Saatchi is designed to puncture the silence surrounding the UK’s childcare crisis.

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


The sound of a baby crying punctures the air at Westfield shopping Westfield. The noise, which humans are hardwired to emotionally respond to, is part of a new nationwide campaign from Saatchi & Saatchi for Pregnant Then Screwed.

The charity, which is working to end the motherhood penalty, has launched the campaign to highlight its new national report into the UK’s childcare crisis. 

To develop a crying sound that would generate a genuine emotive and physical response, Saatchi & Saatchi worked with Professor Lauren Stewart, Professor of Psychology and founder of the Music Mind and Brain MSc course at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Professor Lauren Stewart, Professor of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, explained: “Research has shown that a baby’s cry is impossible to ignore, whether we’re parents or not – the sound’s high pitch, long duration, and varied utterances are particularly associated with strong aversive and physical responses, including increased heart rate and sweating. I worked with Saatchi & Saatchi and synthesized the existing evidence to create a bespoke cry for this campaign, designed to be the most unignorable and aversive cry possible. Put simply, an infant’s cry is a natural example of a perfectly tuned mechanism for attention and action. The cry works like an alarm or siren that just can't be silenced.”

The campaign is supported with digital out of home, while voiceover versions have been created for Spotify and radio. The audio is designed to bring to life the sheer scale of the childcare crisis. It is designed to symbolise the cry for help from parents across the UK, and highlights the need for the country’s childcare infrastructure to gain proper attention. 

The campaign launches tomorrow (Friday 3rd March) and will run to Mother’s Day on 19th March. It follows the sustained lobbying of the government by Pregnant Then Screwed for a clear investment plan for the childcare sector. 

Mothers can't pay to go to work, it doesn't make any sense, but after years of underfunding from the government and ever-increasing childcare fees the majority of mothers now say that it doesn't make financial sense for them to work.

Lauren Fabianski, Communications Director at Pregnant Then Screwed

The motherhood penalty is killing women’s careers.

The campaign has been developed to promote a new national report from Pregnant Then Screwed, which surveyed more than 24,000 parents and revealed that three in four mothers (76%) who pay for childcare say it no longer makes financial sense for them to work. 

Lauren Fabianski, Communications Director at Pregnant Then Screwed, explained: “Mothers can't pay to go to work, it doesn't make any sense, but after years of underfunding from the government and ever-increasing childcare fees the majority of mothers now say that it doesn't make financial sense for them to work.

She continued: “Childcare providers are desperately underfunded, with more than half saying they operated at a loss in 2022, and on top of this we're seeing early years workers as staff falling below the poverty line due to low rates of pay. The whole sector is on its knees, and it is continuing to collapse around us, meanwhile more and more mothers fall out of the workplace.” 

The UK's childcare costs are now in the top three most expensive across the developed world (according to data from the OECD) and this is driving up debt for families, with 1 in 3 (32%) parents who use formal childcare admitting that they have had to rely on some form of debt to cover their childcare costs. 

Franki Goodwin, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi, added that the agency had partnered with Pregnant Then Screwed to create a campaign impossible to ignore. “We hope that in these weeks before Mother’s Day, our message will be heard and listened to,” she added. 

Joeli Brearley, CEO and Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed, warned how the Coronavirus Crisis was killing women’s creative careers.  Last year the organisation ran a protest to highlight the increasing cost of childcare in the UK.

This issue is particularly acute for the creative industries where creative leaders who are also mothers remain as rare as unicorn tears. This is despite the fact that mothers make up one of the most important consumer groups for the world’s biggest brands. 
However, progressive agencies have moved to tangibly bridge this gap. Saatchi & Saatchi set out ambitious plans to revolutionise the industry for working parents. While AMV BBDO’s comprehensive Life Changes policy includes meaningful financial support for employees, such as £500 a month per child for childcare for one year.

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