We had the pleasure of hosting Katrina from Contagious for a particularly insightful Who Cares Wins session on this year’s Cannes Lions. Many interesting points were made, but one in particular struck the crowd.
A lot of noise was made around the new Cannes category: the Glass Cannes Lion that rewards work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice. ‘Touch the Pickle Jar’ by Whisper, a P&G brand, won the Grand Prix this year.
The advertising industry has done some great campaigns trying to raise awareness and bridge the gender inequality gap in different parts of the world. Yet, when you look around the advertising industry, women representation is lacking. Katrina talked about the attendance at the press conference announcing the winner of the Glass Lion. What was particularly interesting was the crowd; or rather, the lack of it. Notably, the attendance was very poor and few men were there. This reflects exactly the challenges our industry faces.
Not to despair though. Progress is in motion with the rise of gender stereotype challenging work. Hopefully this new award will inspire more of the same type of work and end up creating a more positive, gender neutral media and advertising environment.
The introduction of the Glass Lion is already contributing to this shift. The output of the industry is a reflection of the people within it. White men still heavily dominate creative leadership. There have been efforts in recent years to balance gender inequality. But a fact is still a fact; women only represent about 11% of creative directors in advertising, a meager improvement from 3% in 2004. But, this year at Cannes, women represented more than 30 per cent of the jury members, and six women were leading as jury presidents – more than ever before.
With this new award at Cannes, and with a concerted effort from within the industry, we can hope that one day this award will not be needed anymore.