Elizabeth Schonig

Photo of Elizabeth Schonig

Account Director
Washington, DC
Posts: 2

Elizabeth is an Account Director in Ogilvy’s Social Change practice with experience in designing and implementing cause awareness campaigns on behalf of government, corporate and nonprofit clients. Her career at Ogilvy has included all aspects of strategic planning and program development and implementation for causes as diverse as women’s health and financial literacy.

Elizabeth holds a double B.A. in Journalism and Mass Communication and Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is bilingual in Spanish and, after two years of living in southern Spain, speaks with “un acento andalú”.

Embracing Gender Equality: Today and Everyday

Mar 08

You may have heard that today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. What you may not know is that, though the day has been relatively unknown in the U.S. until recently, the observance’s origins are actually American.

A quick history: the first Women’s Day took place in February 1909, organized by the Socialist Party of America, commemorating the one-year anniversary of the New York Garment Workers’ Strike. From there, women’s days caught on internationally—particularly in Europe—to protest war and fight for women’s labor rights and suffrage. A Women’s Day protest is even credited with triggering the Russian Revolution in 1917. Once Vladmir Lenin declared Women’s Day an official holiday in 1922 and the observance was embraced by communists in other parts of the world, the day fell out of favor with Americans. Then, in 1975, the United Nations (UN) recognized March 8 as International Women’s Day.

While the day slowly started to resurface on Americans’ radar, it has gotten increased media attention and coverage this year following January’s historic Women’s March and its tie to today’s A Day Without a Woman strike.

For me, International Women’s Day is a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come on the issues that matter to women—as well as the work that still needs to be done. I’ve been fortunate through my work at Ogilvy to have worked on campaigns that improve women’s equality. Here in Washington, we have a long history of championing women’s health, urging women to care for their own health as much as they care for their families’. For several years I had the privilege of supporting the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute’s The Heart Truth, a program that has helped move the needle nationally in making women aware that women and men are equal when it comes to risk for heart disease. Ogilvy also launched USAID’s Let Girls Learn website, and continues to support the agency’s Ending Preventable Child and Maternal Deaths division. Our Sacramento office has championed Planned Parenthood for years, and our broader network has worked on some incredibly important initiatives for UN Women, including He for She and #womenshould.

Beyond the work we do, I’ve had the opportunity to work under and alongside many, many amazing women that have illustrated that the makeup of leadership in the public relations industry is changing, and Ogilvy itself is doubling down on its commitment to creating an environment that nurtures and champions women through gender equality trainings, paid paternal leave policies, and a professional network designed to empower the next generation of women leaders.

In recognition of International Women’s Day, our Women’s Leadership Professional Network is hosting a panel discussion tomorrow, March 9, focused on the pathways to leadership in a diverse array of industries. I’m excited to learn from women leaders who came before me, and to take those learnings forward to empower my colleagues and continue to work for women’s equality. Be sure to check back next week for a recap of the conversation. In the meantime, take a look at Ogilvy’s conversation with Nanette Braun of UN Women on why March 8 still matters.

Courting Young Invisibles: A Success Story?

Mar 13

“So do you go to any websites that are .coms or .nets, or do you mainly just stick with .govs?”

As I sat eating spaghetti with my roommates on Tuesday night and loading a video on my phone, I didn’t expect much more than five minutes of awkward humor. It wasn’t until Between Two Ferns host Zach Galifinakis asked President Obama about his web surfing preferences that the president’s appearance was made apparent: this wasn’t just entertainment, but an advertisement for health insurance.

Though it may seem like an attempt to combat declining enrollment rates in the final weeks of open enrollment on Healthcare.gov, Mashable reports that President Obama’s appearance on the popular web series has been in the works since last summer when his administration invited representatives from Funny or Die “and other celebrities and creatives” to discuss ways to promote healthcare to consumers, particularly “young invincibles”—or young invisibles, in the words of Galifinakis. Given that this video appeared multiple times on my Facebook newsfeed with commentary like “amazing” and “hilarious,” and without mention of its underlying motive, it seems that it was effective in engaging this group in a language its members understand and respond to. And although web videos aren’t exactly cutting edge—having a video go viral has been the most coveted metric of success for marketers since streaming video online was possible—it does show that the government is capable of creating contemporary content that leverages trends and is open to taking risks in the digital space.

While there’s no doubt as to the video’s popularity and viral appeal, the real question is: is it making people sign up for health insurance? Traffic to Healthcare.gov was 40% higher on Tuesday than on Monday, receiving nearly 900,000 visits.  The increase in web traffic is impressive, but it remains to be seen if it will convert to increased enrollment numbers. With just a few weeks left to go, we won’t have long to wait to see if President Obama and his viral video achieves the dream of moving past engagement and web hits and actually sparks behavior change.