The Cannes Lions and fighting for what is right: The Glass Lion Award


Every year since 1954, an event has been held to celebrate the work of people in creative communications, advertising, and related fields which has become the largest and most significant gathering of the advertising and creative communications industry. This event is known as the Cannes Lions, hosted in the French Riviera along the Mediterranean sea. However, the Cannes Lions did not begin in France, nor is there any particularly noteworthy lion in Cannes unless the local zoo experiences the unfortunate escape of a large feline. The current Cannes Lions festival has its roots in Venice, where the lion at the Piazza San Marco served as the symbolic icon for which the festival is now known across the world.

The Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Her Excellency Toyin Saraki, was delighted to attend the 2018 Cannes Lions festival, which she had previously attended as a guest speaker and participator, as a member of the Jury for the Glass Lion award. This award celebrates culture-shifting creativity and entries need to demonstrate ideas intended to change the world; that is, work which sets out to positively impact ingrained gender inequality, imbalance or injustice. The Glass Lion recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice, through the conscious representation of gender in advertising. In line with the Wellbeing Foundation Africa’s objective to reach Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality, this award celebrated and brought forth a wide range of innovative, mould-breaking and ongoing projects which were submitted in their creative facets as representations of forward-thinking initiatives for the betterment of women’s empowerment and overall status across the world.

Her Excellency Mrs Toyin Ojora Saraki

Judge credentials, Cannes Lions 2018​

Leading the Glass Lions award this year was the fitting profile of an industry leader, characterised by a resilience and commitment to her cause that transcends her own life and impacts beyond the industry. Madonna Badger, who created the #WomenNotObjects campaign, is the founder and CCO of advertising agency Badger & Winters, which over the last 22 years has led with a female perspective that helps brands grow loyal and lasting relationships with women in an emotional and intuitive way. Throughout the week of the 18th to the 23rd of June, she was Glass Jury President and combined the expertise of all jury members to assess which project should be the winner of the coveted Grand Prix. This year’s campaigns - which ranged from an initiative to eradicate the Rape Tax which thousands of women in the United States of America have to pay in medical bills and treatment following rape, to a campaign against abuse to women in online video-games from Brazil - culminated in the revelation of 2018’s winner at the award ceremony on Friday evening.

Cannes Lions Glass Award 2018 Jury​

Madonna Badger & Her Excellency Toyin Saraki

This year’s award - as difficult as it proved to land upon a final decision for which project was most worthy of the Grand Prix - was given to the #BloodNormal campaign; where feminine care brands Bodyform and Libresse abandon the blue liquid usually used to depict blood in advertising in favour of a real depiction of menstrual blood. This bold ad campaign aimed to break period taboos and Madonna, in her introductory speech at the awards, said “to demonstrate the effect this campaign has had on me personally, I’m not afraid to say the word ‘period’ over and over again at an international press conference,”. As an indicator of positive social change, #BloodNormal has broken through decades of sanitized ads around period products, showing real blood on pads rather than blue liquid. Furthermore, members from the creators of the campaign, AMV BBDO,  brought a giant pool raft shaped like a maxi pad onto the stage as they accepted the gold Lion.

Madonna’s speech also spurred a wave of support and admiration for its ability to combine some of the most successful and innovative campaigns towards equality and demolishing gender barriers. Her full speech, shown below, combined social media tags ranging from #WomenNotObjects to #MeToo and encapsulated the eclectic momentum gathered from across the world to instigate the social and institutional changes which challenge long-standing histories of misrepresentation and under-representation:

“At Cannes, WE SEE IT Be IT

We see equal in the Girls Lounge,

We See Her. We Free the Bid and our unstereotype alliance

empowers me

3%? no, More like me, is more like it.

AND Yes #SheisEqual

and Yes we are definitely #WomennotObjects.

In the Glass Lion Jury,

We #StandbyToughMoms,

We are a #ForceofNature, and

in our #DressofRespect, we need a man like you to end #TheRapeTax.

We go to Technical School, as a Betu,

Its #MynameMygame, as we play in our #LionessCrest.

Watching the #WorstSoapOpera, we saw that #NoConditionsapply.

and we remember our Blood is normal

and #MeToo.

Uh oh

Looks like #TimesUp.”

Award ceremony, Cannes Lion 2018

The Cannes Lions 2018 proved to be an educational and invaluable experience which will motivate and inspire Wellbeing Foundation Africa projects and initiatives for months to come. It was also the first year of its history where Nigerian judges represented the country and wider region, with attendees from Nigeria working within the industry also present at the festival, which is as groundbreaking as it is a catalyst for positive change to continue

(left to right) Kemdi Ebi, Chika Uwazie, Her Excellency Toyin Saraki, Lanre Adisa

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