Cannes tackles gender bias with Glass Lion

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The Cannes Lions organisation has announced the launch of the Glass Lion: The Lion for Change, an award with the support of LeanIn.Org which specifically recognises work that challenges gender bias and shatters stereotypical images of men and women which remain rooted in marketing messages.

It is the festival’s long-held belief that marketing actively shapes culture, and the launch of the award is part of an on-going commitment to positively impact the course of communications.

“We are humbled to be described as a global benchmark for creative excellence,” said Lions Festivals ceo Philip Thomas. “Creativity has the power to change culture, and the wider world, in a deeply positive way.

“So rewarding creative work that fights to address the (mis)representation of gender in marketing communication is something we hope will lead to real change across the industry and society.”

Cannes Lions will donate all proceeds from the Glass Lion entry fees and put them back into a programme that promotes and enables the creation of a more gender-neutral media landscape. Details of this programme will be announced over the next few weeks. It is intended that the Glass Lion will evolve in future years to include other global, cultural and societal issues.

The introduction of the Glass Lion: The Lion for Change follows on from the 2014 launch of See It Be It; the festival initiative which aimed to accelerate creative women’s careers in advertising. “To date, a predominantly male voice has informed the creation of a lot of the marketing messaging,” says Lions Festivals director of brand strategy Senta Slingerland.

“Applying creativity to capture the hearts and minds of the largest consumer base in the world – women – will inform the financial future of this industry. This will require a more gender-balanced talent pool.”

The visibility of See It Be It resulted in Facebook COO and founder of LeanIn, Sheryl Sandberg, urging Cannes Lions to consider the launch of a Lion specifically to tackle misrepresentation of gender.

“You can’t be what you can’t see – and how we market to women is critically important,” she said. “If our messages to women – and men – portray equality, we will help create a more equal world. LeanIn.Org is thrilled that Cannes Lions is making the Glass Lion a reality so we can all applaud advertising that is more representative of the world as it should be.”

Founder & ceo of IfWeRanTheWorld/MakeLoveNotPorn and former Founder of BBH New York, Cindy Gallop, has been appointed as the inaugural Glass Lions’ jury president and is a vocal supporter of the award.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled about the introduction of the Glass Lion, which demonstrates Cannes Lions’ commitment to ensuring that both our industry and the work we create not only more accurately reflects the world around us, but actively changes it for the better,” she said.

“I am honoured to be jury president, and look forward, together with the jury, to celebrating work that will set the gold standard for creative and socio-cultural change.”

About the award

The Glass Lion will award highly creative, positive and progressive contributions to gender representation within creative advertising and communications. Entries in this section will seek to promote more inclusive, gender-aware forms of brand communication rooted in creative excellence.

Points won in the Glass Lions category will count towards Special Awards – accolades for Agencies, Network and Holding Company of the Year.

Entry for the Glass Lions opened on Monday 2 March, at  and closes on 27 March. Winners will be awarded on Tuesday 23 June at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes. Nominations for this year’s See It Be It programme will be collected via the website from late March.

The 62nd Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity will run from Sunday 21 June to Saturday 27 June 2015 in Cannes, France.

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