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Lionesses Roar in the Cannes Glass Shortlist

Originally published on June 28th 2018 on AdLibbing.org.



In today’s climate, creating a purposeful brand is crucial—it is no longer enough to halfheartedly support a cause in the name of 'advocacy'. Companies are being called upon to use their influence to create measurable social change, and many large brands are rising to the challenge. However, as more brands produce socially conscious content, it becomes harder to be heard amongst the clamor, and brands must think further and further outside of the box in order to make an impact.


2018 marks the fourth year since the inauguration of the Cannes Lion Glass: The Lion for Change, an award honoring groundbreaking campaigns that tackle issues of gender inequality and prejudice. This year’s shortlist showed no lack of innovation and talent, filled with powerful messages of female empowerment. Here are six feminist campaigns that we found to be particularly impactful.

Miss Peru Measurements

Latina Television/Latina Media/Peru

This campaign made international headlines in 2017 when the Miss Peru pageant, part of the larger Miss Universe competition, led its proceedings a bit differently than usual. During the measurements portion of the pageant, where the contestants were expected to share their height, weight, and size, the women shared a different type of measurement. Each woman shared a different statistic on violence against women in Peru—for example, more than 50% of Peruvian women will experience severe domestic violence in their lifetimes. This pre-planned protest brought international attention to a horrific issue, and eschewed an outdated tradition with a desperately needed wake-up call.

Beautifully Real Moms

Baby Dove/Unilever/Ogilvy/Canada

If you’ve seen any advertisements related to motherhood recently, you’ve probably seen the myth of the perfect mother—the artificial pictures of glowing, perfectly made-up moms holding smiling, calm, and clean babies. While these images are aesthetically pleasing, they pose impossible standards that make real moms feel inadequate. We love this campaign because it shows the reality behind motherhood, and reassures moms that they don’t need to be a perfect mother to be an amazing one. Motherhood is hard, exhausting, frustrating, and messy—but that doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful.

The Dress for Respect

Schweppes/Ogilvy/Brazil

The Dress for Respect campaign begins with a jarring statistic—over 86% of Brazilian women are harassed in nightclubs. Even more jarring? Most men believe that this is a nonissue—or worse, that women are making it up. Schweppes teamed up with Ogilvy Brazil and created a dress with touch sensors that recorded each time the wearer was touched without her permission. The results showed that in one night, the three women who wore it were grabbed, groped, and touched over 40 times an hour.

Sheboard--Raised by Words

Plan International/Hasan & Partners/Finland

Think about the words you use to describe little girls—princess, angel, sweet. Now think about the words you use to describe little boys—hero, brave, adventurous. Notice the difference? This bias is so deep that many people don’t even realize that it is a bias. Internalized gender stereotypes begin as young as six years old, and the way we address children plays a huge role in how they perceive themselves. Sheboard’s innovative tech helps combat those stereotypes by introducing a new vocabulary when talking about girls—a small change that could have an incredible impact on girls’ confidence.

Roman: An Ode to Arab Feminism

Mashrou’ Leila/FP7/BEY/Lebanon

Roman: An Ode to Arab Feminism is a video experience directed by Jessy Moussallem and is designed to disrupt the global narrative of what it means to be both an Arab and a feminist. The video was created to combat the Western belief that Arab women are oppressed, timid victims rather than joyful people boldly working towards gender equality. The video sparked an international conversation about cultural perspectives, and inspired millions of Muslim women to reclaim their own narratives against rising Islamophobic sentiment.

The Winner: Blood Normal

Essity/AMVBBDO/UK

Choosing the Grand Prix winner out of a pool of 27 outstanding candidates could not have been an easy feat for the Cannes Lions jury, but their choice did not disappoint. The Cannes Lion Glass: The Lion for Change unanimously went to Blood Normal, a UK-based campaign by Essity feminine hygiene brand Libresse.

The campaign aims to destigmatize menstruation, and it does so in shameless, paradigm-shifting ways. Even though about half of the world’s population have or have had monthly periods, attitudes surrounding the biological process are still highly negative. According to Jury President Madonna Badger, “We were squeamish and freaked out about this entry, we were so uncomfortable as a group talking about it,” an emotional journey which led them to realize how essential the campaign was.

Purpose-driven advertising is becoming an increasingly competitive space, and the Cannes Glass Lion honors those brands whose relevance and social impact stand above the rest. While each campaign on the shortlist served as an important force for change, these six stood out to us for tackling feminist issues in deeply innovative, powerful ways.

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