POV: Cannes Preview, Equality

By Rachel Lowenstein, Manager, Strategic Innovation, Life+, Mindshare North America

On y va sur La Croisette! That was my initial reaction when I heard I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity as a Young Lions on behalf of Mindshare. As a dual-citizen of the U.S. and France, with my family hailing from a small town in southern France, I have always wanted the opportunity to go back to France professionally. While Cannes Lions is a veritable melting pot of the best international talent in advertising and media, I am looking forward to revisiting the region and experiencing the culture through the lens of the international advertising industry.  Here’s what I’m looking forward to the most.

Working on the Life+ team, I am especially excited to hear from innovators in the technology space. Hearing from the leading disruptors in tech and advertising will certainly prove to be invaluable to our work. The fastest growing tech trends, including AI, messaging, AR, and autonomous living will also undoubtedly be included in the award wins we should see.

Beyond tech trends, gender equality will surely be one of the biggest subjects at the festival this year. As women and LGBTQ people continue to push for equality in their roles in society, including their representation in media, some of the best work we will see at the festival will reflect this cultural revolution. State Street’s Fearless Girl and Dove India’s #ChangeTheRhyme are just two examples of the incredible work we will see up for awards.

The implication for brands with regards to gender equality? It doesn’t make sense for every brand and can certainly be perceived as a brand jumping on the bandwagon. There is a right way to join the discussion of doing-good and, as Pepsi witnessed, there is a wrong way to do it. The brands that will stand out at Cannes Lions for their progress in the gender equality will be the ones that have intertwined it with their own brand identity from the start (Dove), those that make an unapologetic statement with the goods to back it up (State Street, which created the first gender equality ETF to invest in called SHE), or the brands who make it about human connection (Heineken). Culture drives advertising and advertising can drive culture. To that end, I’m excited to attend the panels “‘Skewing Females’: the truth about gender stereotypes in ads” and “Creativity and Responsibility: Using Our Voices to Promote Gender Equality”, as I truly believe we do have a responsibility in our industry to end sexist views of men, women and the LGBTQ community.

With many panels about the rise of female leadership and representation of women in media, as well as several incredible campaigns that seek to break gender stereotypes, brands must keep their ear to the ground on the gender equality front, both from a business and advertising standpoint.

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