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.

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.

Latina, “Miss Peru Measurements”
Agency: Latina Media, Lima

Flipping the script for beauty pageants, Miss Peru contestants used their platform during the contest to point out the severe issues of violence against women in the country. Instead of offering up their body measurements, each contestant shared shocking statistics about the problem.

“My measurements are: 2,202 cases of murdered women reported in the last nine years in my country,” said one contestant. “My measurements are: the 65 percent of university women who are assaulted by their partners,” revealed another.

As each spoke out, #MisMedidasSon (“my measurements are”) began to trend on Twitter immediately, accelerating the conversation.

P&G, “Love Over Bias”
Agency: Wieden+Kennedy Portland

Taking P&G’s successful “Thank You, Mom” campaign one step further, a 2018 Winter Olympics spot shows supportive moms guiding their children through challenging circumstances. The poignant work illustrates that dreams can happen, even in the face of bias over color, religion, disability or sexual orientation.

Baby Dove/Unilever, “Beautifully Real Moms”
Agency: Ogilvy Toronto

Parental perfection is fodder for Instagram and Facebook, and a Dove research showed that 90% of 6,000 Canadian mothers surveyed feel pressure to be a ‘perfect parent.’ But this campaign for Unilever shows that there are no perfect moms, only real ones, and each is beautiful in every way possible.

University of Phoenix, “We Can Do It”
Agency: 180LA

Using Rosie the Riveter, the ubiquitous icon of American working women going back to wartime, this animated spot charts the journey of a woman who loses her factory job to automation only to skill up through the University of Phoenix to land a technology job. Set to an ethereal version of “Dreams” by The Cranberries, the payoff, where the character writes ‘IT’ over the original ‘It,’ is profound and confident.

Libresse/Bodyform, “Blood Normal”
Agency: AMV BBDO, London

For years, a blue liquid was the replacement for menstrual blood in advertising. Bodyform’s sister brand Libresse took the bold step to break through and openly depict real blood. This U.K. ad broke down the walls and taboos and took an authentic approach to normalize honesty about the topic.

REI, “Force of Nature”
Agency: In-house

According to women surveyed by REI, the outdoor industry has a decidedly male skew with testosterone-tinged marketing and portrayal in the media. Almost three-quarters surveyed said that they feel ‘liberated’ or ‘free’ when outdoors. Armed with the data, the Seattle brand pivoted to make women the focal point of its marketing, product development and nonprofit investments.

Visit the Cannes Lions awards page to see the entire shortlist for the Glass Lion and to keep track of all finalists and winners in every category. You can also see Adweek’s picks for the 20 campaigns that will win in Cannes.

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