Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg: Striving for Equality in Advertising Is Not a Trade-Off

The Cannes Lions panel highlighted campaigns that work

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and P&G CMO Marc Pritchard talked equality in advertising today in Cannes. Chris Ariens

CANNES, France—Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says we all practice unconscious bias. She did herself just recently.

Sandberg, who moderated a Cannes Lions panel at Facebook Beach this afternoon on the topic of equality in advertising, said she was taking part in a press conference recently, “and I noticed I called on more men than women,” she said, adding, “It’s also a myth that only men call girls bossy. It’s women too. I do this too.”

Sandberg was joined by FCB chief strategy officer Vita Harris, Procter & Gamble CMO Marc Pritchard and CEO, Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Madeline Di Nonno.

“Help persuade people that this actually works,” said Sandberg to the crowd of about 150. “There is not a trade-off between the marketing work that we do, and this kind of work,” she said.

Harris got a round of applause when she showed Cannes Lions winner “Go Back to Africa,” as well as 2018 Cannes Lions winning work for The Times of India. Pritchard then turned to Harris and said, “Can I have your card? Let’s talk.”

For his part, Pritchard highlighted P&G’s The Best a Man Can Be campaign, which he admitted, “We took a lot of heat for,” as well as new work The Look.

Pritchard said gender equality in advertising “is not only good for business, it’s imperative for business.”

A 30-year P&G veteran, Pritchard said being half-Mexican might have ordinarily stunted his career early, but having the surname Pritchard helped. “My father’s last name was Gonzalez, and my parents wanted to name me Mickey. I probably would not be CMO of P&G if my name was Mickey Gonzalez.”

“The environment has to be right,” said Harris. “You can’t solve this just by bringing in people. You have to allow those people to have a voice, a place and a space.”

“Use your voice, your power or whatever privilege you have as a force for good to eliminate bias in advertising and media,” Pritchard implored.

@ChrisAriens chris.ariens@adweek.com Chris Ariens is the managing editor and director of video at Adweek.