As the Riviera sun and famous red carpet rolled down on the third day of the Festival, those hoping to take home one of the Glass, PR, Outdoor, Print & Publishing and Promo & Activation Lions took their seats in the Lumiere.
With a firm focus on gender equality, it seemed fitting that this year’s Glass: The Lion for Change winner was McCann New York’s ‘Fearless Girl’. While technology, medicine and transport are streaking ahead, there’s still a need for a category which puts gender equality front and centre; Glass Jury President Wendy Clark said: “Coming into this we all had the perspective that we’d like to believe the world was a place that’s so inclusive and gender neutral that a category like this wouldn’t be needed.”
But as the jurors looked at the impact of the societal, economic and social issues that are pressing around the world, Clark explained their realisation that the category, regrettably, will need remain for decades, if not the rest of the century. The bronze ‘Fearless Girl’ statue stands defiantly opposite the Charging Bull, a symbol of the American economy, in the heart of corporate America as a symbol of women today and tomorrow.
Placed there on the eve of International Women’s Day for State Street Global Advisors, whose SHE fund gathers companies with the highest percentages of female leaders, Fearless Girl drives home the fact that a lack of female leaders is bad for business and has become a powerful icon of female empowerment.
The campaign went on to scoop Grands Prix in the PR and Outdoor, with PR Jury President Karen van Bergen saying that the work “inspired the world and transformed the world”, adding that it “transcended both geography and culture and would inspire the world for years to come.” She explained that while a lot of campaigns this year centred around tech, VR, gender equality, women’s rights and political instability and uncertainty, Fearless Girl was a perfect example of doing well by doing good.
Van Bergen went on to put PR in the spotlight, explaining that it’s time for the industry to shine: “In this world, with all the uncertainties and instabilities, it’s all about building trust and you do that through engagement. We in PR have been doing that forever.”
And while this year saw more women than ever in the Cannes Lions jury rooms, 43% to be precise, van Bergen pointed out that there’s still an awful lot to be done. She cited PR as a prime example of an industry in which women make up 80% of the workforce, yet just 5% of them are in leadership positions.
Meanwhile, a second Grand Prix was awarded in Outdoor to Twitter, San Francisco, for their campaign ‘Cannabis, Gloria Steinem & Dorothy Hughes, Guns, Muhammad Ali, Putin, Sonogram, Prince, Saturday Night Live, Hands Up, Eyes: Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump.’
Outdoor Jury President Bruno Bertelli lifted the lid on the two things he asks his jurors to ask themselves when deciding whether work is Lion-worthy: “Would I look up? And would I give a shit?” He emphasised that advertising outside of people’s homes has to have the potential to grab their attention and engage with their minds. It has to be relevant for the moment, he continued, but also have the power to make iconic brands even more iconic.
In Promo & Activation, the emphasis this year was, according to Jury President Stephane Xiberras, firmly on awarding very simple human insights that were accentuated by, rather than focused on, the likes of technology and social media. In a nutshell, “It’s not about just creating an audience, but involving the audience”, and the Grand Prix went to 180LA’s ‘Boost your Voice’ campaign for Boost Mobile.
And equally in Print & Publishing, the question pondered by jurors was, in the age of ‘Instagram or it didn’t happen’, what role does print play and what role do print ads play? Jury President Fran Lucklin revealed that the jurors had expected to see more ‘gimicky’ things in entries, like bolt-on tech layers, VR and AR, but she noted a trend towards physically making, painting, crafting and putting together a physical artefact.
Lucklin described the decision to award the Grand Prix to DAVID’s ‘Oregon, Pensylvannia, Aviano’ campaign for Burger King as an “almost unanimous” jury room decision, explaining that the jury were looking for an image that leaps off the page and distills a complex message into one powerful moment, yet has clearly been created in our modern, hyper-connected age.
Talks and work from Cannes Lions 2017 will be available on the Cannes Lions Player.