Airbnb CMO Jonathan Mildenhall Calls Out Cannes Lions for Lack of Diversity in Jury President Selections

By Erik Oster 

The Cannes Lions Festival recently announced the list of jury presidents for the upcoming festival and awards show, and not everyone is impressed.

While the list of 16 presidents represents a step forward in terms of gender diversity, the Cannes Lions Festival does not appear to be making much progress in terms of ethnic diversity, something Airbnb chief marketing officer Jonathan Mildenhall brought to organizers’ attention. Six of the jury members are women, while two, Ogilvy co-chairman and CCO Tham Khai Meng and Dentsu CCO Ted Lim are Asian. Campaign reports that Mildenhall himself has been selected as a jury member for an unspecified category.

In a tweet, Mildenhall called on Cannes Lions organizers and its jury presidents to join him in “championing greater ethnic diversity on the juries,” adding in a follow-up, “We need it now more than ever.”

“Jonathan is right in what he’s saying about the need for greater diversity across the industry,” Cannes Lions managing director Jose Papa said in a statement to Campaign.

Criticism of the Cannes Lions on matters related to diversity is hardly new. Just last year the festival came under fire for awarding a sexist Almap BBDO Brazil outdoor ad for Bayer aspirin a Bronze Lion in the Outdoor category. In another tweet, Mildenhall acknowledged recent steps by Cannes Lions to address gender diversity, but said that “the ethnic diversity agenda needs to pick up pace.”