Creatives are problem solvers; that much has always been true. And yet now, in the face of urgent environmental and societal challenges, there is pressure on all of us to solve problems more quickly. There is pressure to do more. The talks and awards at Cannes Lions in late June were a clear exploration of this, with themes considering how we can keep up momentum towards diversity, inclusion and sustainability as an industry. In this article, Joanne Merecido, Head of Group Marketing and Business Development, discusses her key takeaways from the event.
More than just talk
Creative content involves conversation and ideas by nature, but the events at Cannes Lions also clearly highlighted one thing above all else: talk is not enough. Particularly surrounding Net Zero, there was a huge sense of urgency around action. ‘Making sustainability commonplace’ was a motto used throughout the event. The announcement from AdGreen was particularly notable as a range of leaders from large companies and organisations announced their intent to roll out Net Zero practices within their advertising work across the creative process including production.
If the advertising industry is to truly tackle social and environmental challenges within the next few years, companies need to address them on every level. I noticed a few great examples of this throughout Cannes Lions. I loved Proctor & Gamble’s creation ‘Widen The Screen’ which addresses the lack of black creators behind the camera. Ogilvy, working with Grupo Estratégico PAE to create their Cannes Golden Lion-winning campaign to further women’s rights in Honduras, feels especially poignant in light of the recent overturning of Roe Vs. Wade. Unilever’s advertising production team putting their sustainability values into practice by filming in local settings and offsetting carbon was also memorable.
More than just campaigns
As was highlighted in the fascinating Chief Creatives on the Terrace talk, creative campaigns have a real power to influence and brands have an obligation to use this for good. Being intentional in the messages communicated is what will set them apart in the future. All Lions participants and award-winners showed a commitment to showcasing this real sense of meaning in their work.
I particularly enjoyed P&G’s Sustainable Development Goals Gold Award-winning campaign for Tide. In a time when the cost of living is causing people to choose between heating and eating, it aptly points out that washing at cold means that consumers are saving $150 annually. Featuring stone cold Steve Austin and other celebrity friends, this is a really thoughtful and well considered angle.
More than just the present
As any event should be, Cannes Lions was boldly forward-facing. Talks considered everything from the impact of TikTok (as in the Chief Creatives talk) to how the industry could be built and rebuilt more resiliently with regards to diversity.
Sustainable Advertising with Aline Santos of Unilever was particularly interesting in this light. Through their #Unstereotype campaign, the organisation has been making waves in improving inclusivity in their ads. Whilst 40% of women didn’t feel like they were represented in Unilever adverts back in 2016, a recent survey showed that 97% of audiences felt ads were more inclusive. This consistent tracking of sentiment will be critical to improvements in the coming years.
I also have to give a mention to the joint Grand Prix winner, Channel 4, for their ‘Super.Human’ ads which truly shifted the conversation around disability through their raw portrayal of the Paralympics. This, like much of the action at Cannes Lions, was a firm step in the right direction for the industry. We must keep recognising these wins, but as was highlighted across the board, we must collectively keep pushing to resolve issues with creative insight. We must continue to do more.
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