Client name: European Commission (EC) - Directorate General for Justice

Duration: 2011-2012

Location: European Union 


The European Commission’s (EC’s) communication campaign on the gender pay gap was launched in 2009 to help reduce the pay gap in the EU from persistent levels of 17%. The primary objective of the campaign was to raise awareness of the pay gap amongst women, businesses and citizens in general. To do this, the campaign used a number of communication channels and tools including print and online advertising, the media, a website, event support and partnership building.

Coffey was commissioned to provide evidence-based answers as to effectiveness of the campaign and recommendations for future activities.  


Evaluation Methodology – Due to the complex nature of the task, our team devised a mixed method approach to evaluate the effectiveness of current communications standards. These methods included:

  • desk research to refine scope of evaluation
  • focus groups in six member states
  • telephone interviews with 20 campaign partners
  • online surveys
  • case studies in Austria, Finland and Poland


Relevance – The campaign was found to be highly relevant as its target audiences had had a very low awareness of the gender pay gap and its effects.

Effectiveness – The campaign had varying levels of effectiveness depending on the target audience and the specific communication activities in question. The campaign was most successful with employees and less so with employers and senior managers, highlighting the difficulty in using a single message across broad audiences.

Recommendations – Amongst other things, Coffey recommended that the EC:

  • create clearly articulated goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound). Such practices will help create more robust and appropriate communications activities in the future
  • consider tailoring communications materials for varied audiences and nations
  • include a ‘call to action’ focus in future campaigns. Findings indicated that there was a strong preference for messages that prompted an audience response and demonstrated a ‘what’s in it for me’ factor clearly