10 Bold and Inspiring Campaigns That Could Win a Glass Lion at Cannes

Equality and empowerment remain core themes

REI's 'Force of Nature' spot is on the shortlist for a Glass Lion at Cannes. REI
Headshot of Doug Zanger

Now in its fourth year, the Glass Lion: the Lion for Change continues to draw together many of the world’s best campaigns confronting gender bias and stereotypes in advertising.

Launched in 2015, with Cindy Gallop presiding as inaugural jury president, the Glass Lion’s first Grand Prix went to BBDO India and Procter & Gamble India for a campaign that smashed stigmas about menstruation in the country. In 2016, India retook the top prize as a Unilever tea brand, with help from Mindshare Mumbai, created the country’s first transgender pop group. Last year, Fearless Girl for State Street Global Advisors added the award to its impressive list of wins.

This year’s jury president, Madonna Badger, chief creative officer of Badger & Winters, believes 2018’s finalists will continue to make a profound impact.

“I expect that I will see work that can change people’s minds and hearts, that has long-lasting change as the goal, which impacts people everywhere to embrace both the small and gigantic change we need,” she said.

Additionally, Badger, who led the charge at Cannes for stronger representation through her powerful #WomenNotObjects campaign in 2016, is optimistic that change comes, not just from women, but from everyone in society.

“I hope to see work where men are somehow the advocates for women’s equality,” she noted. “Where the work shows all of us joining together for change. I want everyone to reach for one another’s equality.”

2018’s Glass Lion shortlist is, once again, a fairly balanced world affair. Out of the 27 entries, the U.S. clocks in with nine finalists, India with four, Brazil three, both the U.K. and The Netherlands with two and one each for Australia, South Africa, Finland, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Canada and Lebanon.

Below are 10 of the campaigns whose creative teams are hoping to walk away with the coveted awards at Cannes:

Nike, “The Lioness Crest”
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam

With an eye to increasing female sports participation in the Netherlands, the country’s royal crest (a mainstay on soccer kits for both the men’s and women’s teams) removed the mane to represent the team’s nickname, the Orange Lionesses better.

“This is an idea that is so much bigger than just a campaign or logo update,” said Hannah Smit, art director at W+K Amsterdam. “It’s an idea that will endure and a strong statement that will help to continue to accelerate the growing momentum around women’s football. It’s a message that gives female players something of their own to rally behind.”

GE, “Unseen Stars”
Agency: BBDO New York

A stroll through Grand Central Terminal yielded some significant impact as GE took over the vaunted constellation ceiling for a projection that paid tribute to female pioneers in science and technology. Part of the brand’s Balance the Equation initiative, this four-day installation gave commuters and tourists alike some significant and welcome pause.

Axe, “#IsItOKForGuys”
Agency: 72andSunny Amsterdam

In a continuing shift for the previously-uber-male brand, this campaign took toxic masculinity, and its detrimental effects, head-on. The film starkly shows how guys privately struggle with masculinity through real Google searches that show the anxiety they feel to conform to perceived social norms.

Gatorade, “Sisters in Sweat”
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day Los Angeles

Holding her newborn daughter, tennis champion Serena Williams implores her to stick with sports. “I won’t mind if you play tennis badly I won’t mind if you choose to never pick up a racquet,” she says. “But I beg you in this life keep playing no matter what.” It’s a reminder for girls to stick with sports—that they very much belong and the benefits in life are many.

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.