CANNES, France—Few conversations have been more high-profile and passionate at this year’s Cannes Lions than those about #MeToo, gender balance and the pervasive dangers of toxic masculinity.
These issues, certainly being seen globally, are especially personal and daunting for women from Latin America, where they say harassment and male-dominated ad agency creative departments are two of several cultural obstacles that can limit the opportunities for female talent.
For a special episode of Adweek’s podcast from Cannes, we sat down with two women who are helping advance the charge for more women in leadership, especially in Latin America:
• Maribel Vidal, vp and planning director at McCann Chile and president of McCann Worldgroup’s Women Leadership Council for Latin America.
• Laura Visco, creative director of 72andSunny Amsterdam, native of Argentina and driving force behind Axe’s global advertising addressing toxic masculinity.
Visco, recently recognized on Adweek’s Creative 100 for her provocative and progressive work on Axe, says one obstacle the ad industry must overcome is the frequent view that diversity and gender balance are more about optics than creative excellence.
“I’m a huge activist on getting more women and more people from different backgrounds working in advertising in South America,” she says on the podcast. “People see it as, ‘Oh we have to get more women, because (otherwise) it’ll look bad in the picture.’ Your work is also going to look bad because you’re not getting different inputs and different visions.”
Vidal, one of the leading voices empowering women in advertising across Latin America, says discussions of gender balance and respect for women in her region go far beyond the workplace and include widespread physical abuse, highlighting how much cultural change is needed for women to be treated as equals.
“‘Me Too’ (in Latin America) has more to do with femicide and physical violence against women,” Vidal says. “In Latin America, we have the No. 1 ranking in terms of how many women are victims of physical abuse, and sometimes they kill women. That is a huge problem in many markets in Latin America.”