This ad just won Sheryl Sandberg’s award for shattering gender stereotypes
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is more or less the Academy Awards of advertising. Every year, the best of the best gather in the south of France for the week-long event, which celebrates innovative advertising in categories ranging from product design to PR to press. Winners are awarded the Lion (basically the festival’s equivalent of the Oscar), and this year, a kickass new category has just had its debut — thanks to Facebook COO and Lean In founder, Sheryl Sandberg.
According to the festival’s website, the Glass Lion honors advertising that “implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice” through a conscious representation of gender and gender roles. All products, services, and mediums are welcome to submit, as long as they “represent a shift towards more positive, progressive and gender-aware communication” with their work. Advertising that helps shatter the glass ceiling is finally going to get some recognition — something we can all get behind — and the award’s inaugural winners have just been announced.
On Tuesday, the first ever Glass Lion Grand Prix award went to Whisper’s “Touch the Pickle” campaign from BBDO India, which “aimed to remove the stigma around menstruation in Indian society,” according to AdWeek. Using video, a TED Talk, celebrity support, and comic books, the campaign, which went viral with almost 3 million views on YouTube, tackled the superstition that if menstruating women “touch the pickle” (the jar where one stores pickle, common in households across India), it will go bad. In the process, the campaign fostered a much-needed dialogue around menstruation, and actually helped to ease the taboo of talking about periods — which is pretty amazing for an ad campaign.
“We were laser focused on work that challenges and shatters gender stereotypes and has the power to effect true cultural change,” Cindy Gallop, president of the first Glass Lions jury told Adweek on Tuesday. “What made the [Grand Prix] decision unanimous was that we have in ‘Touch the Pickle’ a campaign that takes on the challenges of a huge gender issue … in a very open and disruptive way … and is humorous and engaging.”
“Touch the Pickle” wasn’t the only ad honored with the Glass Lion nod. Ten campaigns made the winners’ shortlist for the award: Celem’s “Abortiontravel,” Ywca’s “#NotOkay Campaign,” Equal Pay Day’s “The Undubbed Truth,” Avon’s “180 Makeup Line,” Google’s “Google Made With Code,” Zaimella’s “Diaper for Equality,” 28 Too Many’s “It Happens Here,” Frauenzentrale Zürich’s “Women Should Not Be Worth Less,” Talwar Traders’ “Life Saving Dot,” and Ferrero’s “The White Truth.”
The winners were determined by a panel of nine judges, ranging from ad executives to notable members of various equality organizations — including Jennifer Siebel Newsom, founder and CEO of The Representation Project, and Elizabeth Nyamayaro, head of the @HeForShe Campaign and senior advisor to the Under Secretary-General of UN Women.
Appropriately, Sandberg originally pitched the Glass Lion at last year’s festival after a panel on gender inequality. She argued that expanding our representation of women (and men!) in advertising isn’t just about fostering a balanced perspective: It’s also good for the economy. (To put it into perspective, Whisper’s share of voice grew from 21% to 91% thanks to the campaign.) By challenging lazy and sexist stereotypes, it forces advertising to be more creative and to appeal to a wider audience. Not only does a “conscious representation” of gender help combat gender inequality, but from a consumer standpoint, it makes for more compelling advertising.
“Marketing that depicts women and men as equals — instead of reinforcing cliches — isn’t just good for society, it’s also good for business,” Sandberg told Business Insider.
There have been more than a few ads lately that back Sandberg’s statement, too. Always brand’s viral #LikeAGirl campaign is the first to come to mind — and, in fact, was nominated for this year’s award. (It ended up winning the Grand Prix for the PR Lions, which isn’t a bad consolation prize.)
“Advertising not only reflects culture, it has the power to shape it — so it’s exciting to see agencies and brands creating content that shatters gender stereotypes,” Sandberg continued.
To find out more about this year’s nominees and winners, you can check out the Cannes Lions website right here.
(Image via Instagram.)