Day 1 @ Cannes Lions: Global Advertising Icons, Gender-Balance Campaigners Take Centre Stage


Yesterday, major players in the advertising world gathered again for this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The week-long event ends this Friday, 23. June.

Gender balance promoters refused to lie low, even from day one of this year’s Cannes Lion Festival. Some global brands walked around with high shoulders. Like AB InBev, which was still basking in the euphoria of a second straight Cannes Marketer of the Year award.

The hour of honour for AB InBev was Cannes Lions 2023 Opening Seminar tagged “Creative Marketer of the Year Seminar”. it was handled by Marcel Marcondes, Chief Marketing Officer of AB InBev.

The 30-minute presentation took place at Lumiere Theatre, Palais I. It was focused on how to relentlessly connect with consumers in meaningful ways, and how to remain truly committed to creativity as a driver for growth while improving your creative marketing capabilities.

Putting creative problem-solving squarely at the heart of your business comes with its challenges, but AB InBev has proven that when it is efficiently done, it leads to an all-time high in sales volume and brand power.

In 2018, AB InBev embarked on a journey to develop a creative excellence programme and set a five-year strategic goal to improve its creative marketing capabilities and drive organic revenue for the business. It was a global success.

At this year’s Cannes Lion, the Festival’s first-ever two-time winner of the Creative Marketer of the Year award took time in the first presentation at the festival, to democratize all that they have learned for the betterment of the industry globally.

Gender balance campaigns also captured quality attention from the first day of the festival.  The Female Quotient (FQ) and its creative partner- 6, launched a campaign at Cannes that recreated the festival’s iconic symbol, the male lion, to showcase how far the industry has come—or not come—on gender equality. This new symbol- a combination of a LION and a LIONESS says it all.

Caroline Dettman a key member of this partnership, speaking to AdAge said, “A woman alone has power. Together, we have an impact. We were with our creative partner 6 and we thought Cannes would be the right opportunity to check in on the progress of gender equality in the advertising industry. After all, this is Creative’s biggest moment of the year.

“We challenged ourselves to find a visually compelling way to showcase the data. We focused on the symbol of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity: The Male Lion. We challenged ourselves: what if the symbol could better reflect the state of equality”?

So FQ went beyond creating life-sized posters to producing tees, sweatshirts, and hats for purchase at the group’s Equality Lounge.

The FQ’s mission is to change the equation to close the gender gap. The Equality Lounge @ Cannes Lions is the place where collaboration is happening. FQ brought together the smartest thinkers, disrupters, creators, and solution-seekers together for frank discussions to advance equality together.

There is good news from these efforts.  For the first time last year, 51% of CMOs are women. The bad news is that creative leadership has remained stagnant at roughly 30% of women. And the ugly news is that less than 1% of women are agency owners. “The FQ Mane Campaign” is a disruptive way to make these invisible facts visible.  

“The FQ Mane Campaign” at the Equality Lounge is just one way the gender balance campaigners are telling their story. They have a full social media campaign planned and they hope to spread the message about changing the equation not only at Cannes but all around the globe. Between social media posts from The FQ and our community of conscious leaders—as well as when people head back to their hometowns all around the world with their Mane Event attire—FQ and partners are well on their way to making an impact on the hearts and minds of the community in Cannes and beyond.

Besides, at The Equality Lounge, from Monday through Thursday this week, FQ and Partners have assembled 70+ panels and 400 FQ Speakers to reinforce the message of growing gender balance globally in the advertising industry. FQ is really poised to make its impact in advertising unstoppable.

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