These 7 U.S. Campaigns Confronting Gender Stereotypes Could Win a Glass Lion at Cannes

Nike, Adidas and Gillette are all in the running

Adidas' 'Here to Create Change' campaign from TBWA\Chiat\Day New York is up for a Glass Lion.

The Glass Lion, like its Titanium cousin, is one of the more unique and highly sought after awards in Cannes. Since its inception in 2015, the honor has shone a light on efforts to break advertising’s tired stereotypes from within.

Past Glass Grand Prix winners include campaigns that broke stigmas around menstruation in India, the first transgender pop group and the oft-awarded Fearless Girl. Last year’s Glass Grand Prix winner, #BloodNormal, made a powerful statement about destigmatizing menstruation (advancing an issue raised by the first winner of the top prize).

The 2019 Glass Lion shortlist has now been released, giving some insight into the work being considered for the award. Out of 23 entries on the shortlist, the U.S. leads with seven, while the U.K. has four (including AMV BBDO’s newest awards show dominator, “Viva La Vulva” for Essity brands like Libresse and Bodyform). Canada (with Grey Canada’s recent First Shave ad for Gillette) and Brazil each have two campaigns on the shortlist, and there one finalist each from Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, India, Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Below are the U.S. entries shortlisted for Glass: The Lion for Change, being judged by a jury led this year by Joan Chief Creative Officer Jaime Robinson:

Billie Razors, ‘Project Body Hair’
Agency: In-house

In most shaving commercials for women, body hair is conspicuously absent—it’s mostly razors gliding over clean, bare skin. Direct-to-consumer women’s shaving brand Billie put an end to the practice with “Project Body Hair,” which includes ads showing women with body hair, donated free photography of women with body hair to stock site Unsplash, and crowdsourced photos of women with body hair.

Created in-house, with postproduction help from Whitehouse Post and Carbon VFX, Billie’s co-founder Georgina Gooley said that “The campaign is making a broader statement on how woman are portrayed in the razor category. This campaign intends to normalize that women have body hair. It’s unrealistic to see women with perfectly shaved legs.”

Adidas, ‘Here to Create Change’
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day New York

According to Adidas research, girls drop out of sports in huge numbers after they leave school. In New York City alone, girls stop playing sports at more than two times the rate of boys and, by the age of 19, only 29% of girls (compared to 56% of boys) will play any kind of sport at all.

To highlight the data, tennis legend and social activist Billie Jean King led a campaign to help keep teen girls active. Created by TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, the work launched at the U.S. Open, where King fought for equality over four decades ago. In addition to video and print ads, Adidas created a limited edition shoe in King’s honor.

Miss America Organization, ‘Miss America 2.0’
Agency: VMLY&R New York

There were some misperceptions about the Miss America pageant that needed to be addressed. Chief among them was the fact that Donald Trump didn’t own the show (the Trump Organization owned the Miss U.S.A. pageant). Additionally, there was a need to clean house after it emerged that the board’s CEO and other leaders discussed former contestants in a derogatory, misogynistic way.

Fresh with a new CEO in Regina Hopper, VMLY&R had a heady task on its hands to rebrand the long-running pageant. The campaign focused on the Miss America Organization’s role in assisting in higher education and its community service. A third ad focused on candidates answering more light-hearted questions, and bumpers celebrated career achievements of former winners.

Daughters of the Evolution, ‘Lessons in Herstory’
Agency: Goodby Silverstein & Partners

The numbers around American history and gender are staggeringly skewed towards men. This gender bias starts at the earliest of ages in the classroom, with fewer than 11% of textbook references focused on specific women.

For Women’s History Month, Daughters of the Evolution, an organization co-founded by Margaret Johnson, Goodby Silverstein & Partners’ chief creative officer and partner, collaborated with the agency on an AR project to educate people about the women omitted from history.

“Lessons in Herstory” is an app that scans images of male historical figures and then unlocks the story of important women from that same period. So far, the app features 75 women from the 19th century.

“When I reflected on the fact that women are so underrepresented in the textbooks our children are studying, I started looking for a creative solution to address it,” said Johnson. “Technology and education are becoming more and more symbiotic, and augmented reality is the perfect tool to bring to life the missing stories of women’s role in history.”

Unilever (for Dove), ‘Project #ShowUs’
Agency: Publicis Sapient New York

Imagery in advertising and media has a long and discouraging history of being unrealistic.

To help show greater representation in the imagery used in social media, news stories and ad campaigns, Dove partnered with Getty Images and female-led creative agency Girlgaze to develop and curate a collection of photos that feature more diverse women.

Project #ShowUs has 5,000 photos from 39 countries that came from 116 female, non-binary and female-identifying photographers. The images also have more accurate tags and descriptions (including “blackgirlmagic,” “bosslady” and “enlightened”), making it easier to find photos that avoid the predictable tropes.

“[These photos show] women as they are, not as others believe they should be,” said the project’s creators. “[There’s] no digital distortion, just an unapologetically inclusive vision of beauty.”

Nike, ‘Dream Crazier’
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland

It’s safe to say that Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad, “Dream Crazy,” will walk away with a few awards at this year’s Cannes. Yet what started as one of advertising’s most significant statements has continued to evolve the conversation around inclusion, advocacy and race.

The brand, with its longtime agency partner Wieden + Kennedy Portland, followed up the powerful debut with an equally compelling 90-second ad featuring Serena Williams.

Fronted by the tennis legend, and directed by Kim Gehrig, the spot featured Simone Biles, Ibtihaj Muhammad, Chloe Kim and members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. It’s also classic Nike and W+K: anthemic, inspiring and a rallying cry for a new era of female athletes.

“The use of Serena Williams as the narrator amongst a number of athletes reflects her standing as one of the most inspirational athletes of her generation who empowers girls to continue to believe in their own crazy dream,” said a Nike representative.

Gillette, ‘We Believe: The Best Men Can Get’
Agency: Grey New York

Putting a twist on an iconic slogan, especially in light of the current climate, can be rife with all kinds of pitfalls. Yet Gillette and Grey New York plowed ahead to make a statement about toxic masculinity in a 90-second ad that had people taking sides.

Tackling issues today like real and virtual bullying, sexual harassment and misogyny, and the persistence of gender imbalance in corporate America, the Kim Gehrig-directed ad turned the mirror right back at men and how they see themselves.

“Gillette believes in the best in men,” said Gary Coombe, president, P&G Global Grooming, in a statement. “By holding each other accountable, eliminating excuses for bad behavior and supporting a new generation working toward their personal ‘best,’ we can help create positive change that will matter for years to come.”

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