Cannes Lions: P&G Stands Up as an Agent of Change on Diversity


Cannes Lions panel on diversity with Marc Pritchard, P&G; Antonio Luca, HP; and singer MILCK

Procter & Gamble is building on its legacy of gender empowerment (including the Always #LikeAGirl campaign) by bringing a bold message to the 2018 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

P&G made a splash on the Croisette with news of how it’s “advancing systemic change for gender equality in advertising” by launching new partnerships with Queen Latifah and Katie Couric and committing to hiring more female directors and creatives.

The topic was discussed on panels including a Girls Lounge event with P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, HP CMO Antonio Luca and the singer on Monday, and it will continue with a #SeeHer panel on Tuesday.

“As the world’s greatest creative minds gather to celebrate creativity, we are committed to do our part with meaningful actions to advance gender equality in advertising, media and the creative pipeline in the next five years,” stated Pritchard. “We also know no company can do it alone, so we hope to inspire others to be agents of change to accelerate momentum.”

The creative partnerships are part of a series of new actions, commitments and partnerships to increase diversity throughout the creative supply chain for P&G—the world’s biggest advertiser—leading to more accurate and positive portrayals of women in advertising and media, and driving growth and social good, all pillars of its company-wide sustainability platform.

According to the U.S. Association of National Advertisers #SeeHer study, which launched in 2016, women and girls are inaccurately or negatively portrayed in 29% of ads and media programs and continue to be underrepresented behind the camera: only 32% of Chief Marketing Officers, 33% of Chief Creative Officers and a mere 10% of Commercial Directors are women. These issues persist despite evidence that gender-equal ads perform 10% higher in trust and 26% higher in sales growth.

To address these issues, P&G “has called for an aspiration” not only within its company but beyond to achieve 100% accurate and positive portrayals of women in advertising and media, supported by equal representation of women and men in the creative supply chain—so gender equality in front of and behind the camera.

As Pritchard stated at the Girls Lounge panel at Cannes Lions on Monday, the commercial production industry average for women behind the camera is 10%; he’d love to set a goal of 50/50 representation across the industry.

As announced at Cannes on Monday, P&G is leading a comprehensive set of actions to do its part to build, fuel and connect a pipeline of diverse female talent to advertising, media and content opportunities as a systemic solution.

Recognizing the importance of full industry participation, the Company is working with the Association of National Advertisers #SeeHer movement and other industry initiatives, including the Unilever and UN Women-sponsored Unstereotype Alliance, which was announced at the 2017 Cannes Lions to engage advertisers, agencies and content developers to drive change across the commercial ecosystem.

“We want advertisers to not only portray the world as it is, which may perpetuate harmful cultural and social norms, but to show the world that we aspire to,” wrote UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka in an open letter to the global advertising industry that was released Monday.

“We know that where there is inequality, there is discrimination; where there are power imbalances, there is violence; where there is exclusion, there is poverty of every kind. We have witnessed the rising tide of millions of women and men worldwide protesting the deep harm that has come from societies out of balance. We are committed to working together.”

UN Women also saluted its expanding lineup of partners to the Unstereotype Alliance: “We salute those companies who have already joined this bold initiative: Alibaba, ANA, ATT, Cannes Lions, Diageo, Facebook, Geena Davis Institute, Google, IPA, IPG, Johnson & Johnson, Mars, Mattel, Microsoft, P&G, The Female Quotient, Twitter, Unilever, WFA and WPP. And we warmly welcome our new members Adobe, Spotify, Omnicom, Publicis Groupe, Vodafone, European Association of Communication Agencies, Boston Consulting Group, UNICEF, Free the Bid and Jess Weiner.”

P&G’s New Partners

“I have been in the entertainment industry for decades, and I know that portraying women—and especially women of color—in a truthful way requires a diverse team both in front of and behind the camera. When we have women from diverse backgrounds behind the camera, we tell stories with sharper insights and more honesty that resonate more deeply with people,” said Queen Latifah.

“Throughout my career, I’ve worked in many newsrooms, telling many kinds of stories. My mission for Katie Couric Media is to lead a female driven-team in partnership with leading brands that share our values to develop meaningful content that will help people navigate our complicated world, promote understanding and enrich their lives,” added Katie Couric.

More details on P&G’s new industry partnerships to drive equal representation and positive portrayals of women in media:

The Queen Collective: Oscar nominee and winner of a Golden Globe, Emmy and SAG Award, Queen Latifah, along with her production company Flavor Unit and the Queen Collective aim to accelerate gender and racial equality behind the camera. By creating distribution for films produced by diverse female directors, Queen Latifah builds on her track record of challenging boundaries in music, movies and other artistic endeavors. The initiative will initially greenlight two films produced by female directors through a major distribution partner. In 2016, women comprised only 4% of directors working on the top 250 grossing films. This creates challenges not only in film, but also in production of other mediums such as advertising. The Queen Collective will fuel the pipeline of women directors in a partnership with P&G, HP, Inc., Smirnoff, Wieden+Kennedy, Marina Maher Communications / Ketchum +, United Talent Agency Marketing and Tribeca Studios.

Katie Couric Media: The award-winning journalist’s latest undertaking will partner sponsors with distribution platforms to create smart, thoughtful, empowering content. Inspired by her involvement on the advisory board of #SeeHer, an initiative of the Association of National Advertisers, Couric will produce a new P&G-backed video series for millennial news source theSkimm and partner with major brands to collaborate on content that reflects their mutual values and commitment to important issues.

Katie Couric Media will be led by a female-driven team to produce and distribute stories in a variety of formats leveraging the power and reach of the changing media landscape, including digital series, documentaries, scripted projects, podcasts and live programing on platforms that best reach the target audiences interested in specific content.

Free The Bid: Founded by Alma Har’el in response to her personal experience of the lack of opportunities for women directors in advertising, Free the Bid advocates for equal opportunities to bid on commercial jobs in the advertising industry. P&G and its brands are taking the pledge to promise to include a woman director on any triple-bid commercial project. In parallel, P&G’s largest agency partner, Publicis Groupe, is expanding its pledge to cover all their agencies and networks worldwide. P&G has also committed to helping expand Free the Bid worldwide over the next three years in partnership with HP Inc. and Publicis Groupe to double Free The Bid’s number of directors and expand to 20 countries.

#SheIsEqual Summit: To share creative successes and inspire broader action for gender equality, Global Citizen and P&G will partner and co-host the first #SheIsEqual Summit on September 28, 2018 in New York during the UN General Assembly Week. The event will bring together governments, private sector companies, and influencers from advertising, media and entertainment to share perspectives on gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, girls’ education and advocacy through the lens of representation of women in the media, marketing, technology and entertainment.

Madonna Badger, Glass Lion Jury President and See It Be It Chair, will curate a “Creative Showcase” in partnership with Phillip Thomas, Cannes Lions CEO to highlight and celebrate the best work from the 2018 Glass Lions and new SDG Lions competitions that positively portrays an equal world. The ANA #SeeHer initiative will create sessions that discuss the role media plays in society and the importance of accurate representation of women and girls in entertainment.

See Her: The #SeeHer initiative is spearheaded by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the largest marketing and advertising association in the United States. The ANA makes a difference for individuals, brands, and the industry by advancing the interests of marketers and promoting and protecting the well-being of the marketing community. ANA membership includes nearly 1,000 companies with 15,000 brands that collectively spend or support more than $300 billion in marketing and advertising annually. #SeeHer is part of the ANA’s Alliance for Family Entertainment (ANA AFE), the industry’s foremost advocate for sophisticated, realistic, family-themed content on traditional and digital platforms.

Procter & Gamble: P&G serves consumers around the world with one of the strongest portfolios of trusted, quality, leadership brands, including Always, Ambi Pur, Ariel, Bounty, Charmin, Crest, Dawn, Downy, Fairy, Febreze, Gain, Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Lenor, Olay, Oral-B, Pampers, Pantene, SK-II, Tide, Vicks and Whisper. The P&G community includes operations in approximately 70 countries worldwide.

[Image at top via Lara MacKenzie, HP]