Last Friday in Cannes, P&G won two Grand Prix awards in film, including one for “The Talk.” Through the cheers and bright lights, I made my way to the stage along with others to accept the award on P&G’s behalf. As the Cannes Lion award presenter placed the award in my hand, I not only accepted it, this moment signaled to the advertising and marketing industry that, yes: Black girls Cannes.
It was the first time many people saw a black American woman take the stage for the Grand Prix. Following the awards ceremony, I was surprised by the number of people that approached me saying, “that never happens in our industry,” or “we have never seen a black woman walk the stage at Cannes Lion.” A young lady shared that seeing a black woman walk the Cannes stage was a defining moment to her as a black woman, because finally the advertising industry was reflecting images of success that looked like her. This revelation helped the woman to feel more confident about her career path in advertising, and that moved me to tears.
This was a defining moment for many black women. Yes, black girls Cannes, but not without the support and structural settings to ensure success. To help our industry continue to drive business success through diversity, here are three things to keep in mind.
Diversity starts within
Companies and agencies should strive to foster diverse talent teams internally to lead creative work. In an industry that lacks diversity, take the extra step to build and fund diverse teams.
“The Talk” was a re-launch to P&G’s “My Black Is Beautiful” campaign. The 11-year-old campaign was created by six black women who had the goal to tackle the lack of positive portrayal of black women in media. Nearly 10 years later, the P&G-owned platform continues to be led by black women: Lela Coffey, Verna Coleman-Hagler, Anitra Williams, Crystal Harrell, Kristine Decker, Betsy Bluestone, Brittany Body and others. These black women are not only executives, they are also mothers who pulled from their personal experiences to reflect the black parenting experience and a unique “talk” that African-American parents have with their children. It was a diverse team of black, dynamic women who were behind the momentous win at Cannes.
Create diversity of thought collaborations
Be willing to foster out-of-the-box collaborations and intentionally look to work with minority-owned firms that reflect culture. The more diverse the team, the more creative the work.
We have all heard the “I can’t find diverse talent excuse,” and that can no longer be an out. We must be willing to think outside of the box to foster diversity of thought in your creative work. For “The Talk,” P&G commissioned a collaboration between BBDO Worldwide and minority woman-owned agency EGAMI Group. P&G valued the cultural insight of EGAMI Group’s team and ensured this company had a seat at the table to influence the work. Ultimately, EGAMI Group was responsible for providing the strategic cultural insight that influenced this work.
You may have to step away from the industry’s cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach. It may not be enough to brief one agency to obtain diversity of thought.
Don’t just talk about it—be about it
Be intentional to ensure diverse talent and diverse work continues to make its way to the world’s leading creative platform stage at Cannes Lion. Time is up on giving lip service to diversity in advertising. We have entered a time when companies must aggressively take action. Five years ago, the Cannes Lion scene was nearly void of diversity in attendees and content. However, this year many noted that the progress of inclusion was finally visible at Cannes.
As you prepare for future trips to Cannes Lions, strive to ensure minority talent is provided opportunities to attend. Submit work that is led by creative multicultural talent. Partner with leading diversity organizations to showcase diverse case studies in content sessions and/or sponsor diverse talent attendance. When looking for collaborators and talent, keep in mind leading organizations including I.D.E.A. Initiative, ADCOLOR, Cannes Can: Diversity Collective, Marcus Graham Project, The LAGRANT Foundation, Saturday Morning and more.
This year, “The Talk” not only took center stage with a Grand Prix win, but the case study was featured on various panels with the I.D.E.A Initiative, Facebook and Spotify. Collectively, it is our industry’s responsibility to ensure black girl Cannes moments happen every day within our companies and agencies.