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Breaking Through The Glass

by Caroline Keogh, Senior Account Director

The Glass Lions, or The Lions for Change, celebrate ideas intended to change the world. The category awards work that set out to positively impact ingrained gender inequality, imbalance or injustice.

The Jury President this year was very fitting — the inimitable Madonna Badger, Founder & CCO of Badger & Winters, a purpose-driven U.S. agency that are on a mission to rewrite how women are portrayed in advertising.

This year, Madonna and her jury awarded 11 Glass Lions, from a shortlist of 27. Here are the key sub-themes that featured within the work, along with examples that endeavoured for change in this space.

Gender inequality in sports+gaming

Nike’s ‘The Lioness Crest’ celebrated Dutch women’s unique attitude to and identity within sport, designing the Dutch women’s football team their own unique lioness crest.

#MyGameMyName, Telefonica/Vivo Brazil’s online gaming initiative addressed online sexual harassment in the gaming world by highlighting the issue amongst the wider gaming community.

‘Sisters in Sweat’ by Gatorade featured a powerful message from tennis legend Serena Williams to her daughter and all schoolgirls about the wonders of team sports.


The Pregnancy Pause’s LinkedIn initiative helped mothers avoid CV gaps which have a negative impact on their employment prospects.

#StandByToughMoms, All Out’s endeavour to bring the hidden stresses of tough Indian moms into the open and ignite a national conversation around the subject.

Baby Dove’s ‘Beautifully Real Moms’ shouted loud that being a real mom is so much more beautiful than being perfect.

Violence against women

A really active territory this year with a plethora of entries seeking to tackle this issue. Highlights included UNICEF’s ‘The Worst Soap Opera’ which won Gold and highlighted the Dominican Republic’s child marriage epidemic through the medium of the nationally popular TV soap opera.

‘The Dress for Respect’ from Schweppes Brazil, an initiative to encourage open and public conversation about sexual harassment.

The ‘Rape Tax’ by the National Organization for Victim Assistance which brought to life the reality of rape victims in the U.S. getting hit with medical bills following their attacks.

Female opportunity+development

Samsung’s Technical School brought a shift to the mentality of Indian society towards the girl child and the patriarchal practice of calling daughters ‘beta’, an Indian word for son.

Also out of India, the Times of India’s ‘No Conditions Apply’, which also won Gold, is a platform which works towards better representation of women in India and sees the newspaper identify opportunities for intervention in Bengali culture where they can be a true catalyst of positive and progressive change in the U.S.
as part of GE’s Balance.

The Equation initiative, which aims to hire, promote and retain more women in science and technology, created ‘Unseen Stars’, an activation that featured live projection mapping in Grand Central Station depicting 12 pioneering female scientists.

Menstrual stigma

‘Blood Normal’ by Essity challenged the stigma and taboo that surrounds periods by showing them as a normal part of life. Shockingly they are the first menstrual product brand to show period blood that looks like actual blood (not bright blue, not clinical-looking).

The ‘Tampon Tax Off’ from Tesco, saw the brand removing the tax on sanitary wear to positively impact millions of women across the U.K. because they don’t believe women should be taxed for being women.

Last but certainly not least, Stayfree’s ‘Project Free Period’ identified an opportunity to use periods to normalise the lives of Indian commercial sex trade workers by providing them with skills that could generate future sustainable incomes.

The Grand Prix winner?

Blood Normal from Essity. The campaign had a PR reach of
over 4.5 billion, a 72% positive reaction to the work, and the brand’s share of social voice rose from 37% to 90%. Influencers and collaborators got on board and spread the blood normal message and by gaining traction in news and culture, the campaign found its way onto the television stations they were originally banned from. A worthy winner.

Seeing this brave work at Cannes, work that was gallant enough to use what we do on a daily basis to tackle societal issues, was a great reminder of the power and potential of our industry — a reminder that these awards are not about back-patting, but actual transformative change
on a global scale.


Read the next article:

Keeping it real

by Derek Doyle, Head of Production

Or see all our articles from Cannes Lions 2018