Fearless Girl Takes Cannes by Storm, Winning 3 Grand Prix on Her First Day

Twitter billboards also pick up an Outdoor Grand Prix

Sculpture: Kristen Visbal - Photo: Federica Valabrega

CANNES, France—Call her Peerless Girl.

McCann New York’s Fearless Girl statue, placed on Wall Street for State Street Global Advisors as a symbol of the power of women in business, enjoyed a spectacular first day here at the Cannes Lions festival, sweeping the first three competitions by picking up the Grand Prix in the Glass, PR and Outdoor Lions.

The three jury presidents—Wendy Clark (Glass), Karen van Bergen (PR) and Bruno Bertelli (Outdoor)—all raved about Fearless Girl and how it had such immediately global impact through such an incredibly simple and inspired execution.

“It’s hard to go three-for-three,” said Clark, the CEO of DDB North America. “I would say simply that [Fearless Girl] gripped the world’s attention, and it will do for years to come. Its simplicity in the use of symbolism transcends geography, it transcends language, it transcends culture. For us, while it is a girl, it elegantly captures women’s journeys and our path to empowerment. And it also encapsulates our hopes and our ambitions for every little girl in the world.”

Clark also cited the business results for State Street, including a 374 percent increase in the size of the so-called SHE fund—State Street’s SSGA Gender Diversity Index, which tracks the performance of U.S. companies that are leaders in advancing women through gender diversity on their boards and in senior leadership positions.

Clark said the Glass Lion jury was looking for “fresh, brave, transformational, impactful, inspirational and lasting work” and that Fearless Girl embodied all of that. “We wanted to be able to say that what we selected would transform and challenge a particular issue, and be something we couldn’t unsee,” she said.

Van Bergen, CEO of Omnicom Public Relations Group, echoed those sentiments, saying her PR Lions jury was similarly bowled over by the Fearless Girl piece.

“As a financial services company that put this statue up in the heart of the financial world, we thought that was extremely courageous,” she said. “It’s a beautiful story. There have been a couple of attempts to take down Fearless Girl, but she’s still there in spite of all the adversity.”

Fearless Girl did have some competition for the Grand Prix in the Glass Lions and PR Lions.

Clark said the Glass jury debated between Fearless Girl and Tecate’s “Violence” spot (see below), which ended up winning a gold Lion. Another gold in Glass went to The Ammada Trust’s #GiveHer5, but that campaign was for a nonprofit and thus was ineligible for the Grand Prix.

The Australian road-safety campaign “Meet Graham,” which won a Grand Prix over the weekend at the Lions Health festival, was also in contention for the PR Lions Grand Prix. It also ended up winning gold.

The Outdoor jury had no such debate. They selected two Grand Prix winners—Fearless Girl, as well as a hashtag billboard campaign from Twitter, created in-house. You can see the full Twitter campaign here.

Fearless Girl couldn’t have been an easier pick, said Bertelli, the global chief creative officer of Publicis. “It took us five minutes [to pick Fearless Girl],” he said Bertelli. He then added, jokingly: “Also, we wanted to go to the beach.”

See all the U.S. Lion winners from the five categories honored at Monday’s award show here.