Cannes created the Glass Lion, the Lion for Change, this year to address the gender imbalance in the industry and celebrate work and initiatives that seek to bring about change.
The winning campaign, 'Touch the Pickle', for P&G’s Whisper sanitary brand in India, was developed by BBDO to tackle the taboo of menstruation in Indian culture. But beyond the new category, equality, gender and ethics were hot topics on the stage, not just as a social issue – but one critical to business.
Melbourne-based Bec Brideson, CEO of Venus Comms, spoke of the financial upside to getting marketing to women right –something that many agencies are still getting wrong. The convergence of tech and gender in the industry also came up.
“[Gender equality] has always been an issue, but as the creative and technology industries converge, there's a real possibility that things will actually go backwards, because tech has even fewer women than creative industry,” said Sarah Wood, founder and COO/CMO of Unruly at the Inaugural Innovation Lions Festival.
“Diversity drives innovation and revenue long term, so it's a business critical conversation. It's not just a women's issue. It’s bad news for brands ... I'd be worried to know that 91% of women don't think brands understand them – that’s concerning. Considering the spending power that women have, brands can’t afford to alienate women.”
Microsoft corporate VP of global advertising and media, Kathleen Hall, however, sees the convergence of advertising and tech as a positive thing for women. Speaking on the panel at IPG’s annual women’s breakfast, she said that because it calls for more collaborative working between disciplines, it plays into women’s natural skill set and offers more opportunities for women to progress.
Senta Slingerland, Cannes Lions director of brand strategy, said at the breakfast that the creation of the Glass Lion was to address all aspects of gender imbalance in the industry – but that the aim is for it to become obsolete.
Also speaking at the IPG event, Patricia Korth-McDonnell, MD of US West Coast-based agency Huge, said before attending Cannes for the first time this year she thought the idea of a ‘women’s breakfast’ was “quaint” and unnecessary, saying “Why do we have to get together and talk as ‘ladies’? Then I saw how the industry looks on stage accepting awards – it’s men, talking to other men, giving awards to other men, and that was kind of depressing.”
The change is happening though and it can be seen in the number of high-profile, pro-female, stereotype-busting campaigns such as like #Likeagirl, This Girl Can and R/GA’s Love Has No Labels being awarded this year.
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