Monday, June 24, 2013

11241: Delayed WTF 24—Cannes Jurors.

MultiCultClassics is often occupied with real work. As a result, a handful of events occur without the expected blog commentary. This limited series—Delayed WTF—seeks to make belated amends for the absence of malice.

Wanted to revisit the alleged dearth of dames in Cannes jury panels. Don’t mean to denigrate the cause, as all forms of discrimination deserve serious consideration. However, is spotlighting the juror disparity really the best way to make a global argument for gender equality in the advertising and marketing fields?

For starters, it’s the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The event is hardly a celebration of diversity and inclusion. It’s closer to being the industry’s version of Caligula or Animal House, replete with parties featuring porn rooms (was Cindy Gallop behind the entertainment at that particular soiree…?). Hollering for fair representation at Cannes is the equivalent of Jeff Goodby asking, “Where are all the Black people?” at a KKK rally—or any major U.S. advertising agency, for that matter.

Hollie Repello’s chart—which has been revised to correct the typo—doesn’t exactly make a damning case either. Remember, Cannes is supposed to be a creative spectacle. Gender underrepresentation in the creative department has already been recognized, researched and rebutted. The infamous notions of Neil French have essentially been corroborated by adwomen. Besides, the seemingly low creative department numbers shouldn’t equate to discrimination, as women are very well represented in other areas, including account management, planning, media and accounting. Once Cannes introduces Lions for non-creative functions—a real possibility given the newer awards for holding companies, executives and healthcare marketing—women can expect to match or overtake men in the French Riviera.

“Women in Advertising”—a PR-style video shot at Cannes that stars IPG CEO Michael Roth and Deutsch NYC CEO Val DiFebo—underscored the complexities. Roth came off like the insurance salesman that he is, spouting the stereotypical objectives sans a single specific action step. Meanwhile, DiFebo is no less clueless today than she was when addressing the same topic last year. Hey, somebody track down Leo Burnett CCO Susan Credle—provided she’s not too busy meeting more Hong Kong telecom executives—and ask her to weigh in on the struggles women face in the ad game too.

USA TODAY also reported on the dearth of dames on Cannes juries. It’s a safe bet the public won’t care about the story, provided anyone actually read it. Barbara Lippert threw in her two cents as well, although it’s a little astonishing that the veteran trade journalist and Curator of Pop Culture is just now noticing the issue after decades of covering the industry.

One theory to explain the overall underrepresentation opines the industry has no role models for women to emulate. This idea kinda insults all the successful women in advertising, no? Perhaps a Chief Diversity Officer will launch a female minority internship program. Or a Cannes committee can scour undeveloped nations in search of future Young Lionesses via a female minority internship programme. The 4As could erect a Peggy Olson High School. Surely The One Club and Art Directors Club will concoct innovative solutions. Well, maybe not the Art Directors Club.

As MultiCultClassics has already mentioned, it’s hard to support the revolution when there is no unity—or even agreement that a problem exists. Is gender discrimination truly happening in the industry? The jury is still out.

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