Transgender acceptance took center stage at Cannes Lions 2016.
The Glass Lions, one of 17 award categories at Cannes Lions, the world’s largest advertising industry event, “recognize work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice, through the conscious representation of gender in advertising.” This year’s Grand Prix went to Mindshare Mumbai for a campaign celebrating transgender people in India.
The project for Brooke Bond Red Label Tea involved creating 6 Pack Band, billed as India’s first-ever transgender pop group. The six-person group was assembled from India’s population of hijra, a group considered to be a third gender in Indian society that has long been a target of discrimination.
“For us this year, gender inequality is not only a women’s issue,” said Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media and jury president for the Glass Lion Award category, explaining the decision.
“6 Pack Band” was also the name of the associated advertising campaign, which featured the group in upbeat music videos including “Hum Hain Happy,” a cover of the Pharrell hit “Happy.” The song was broadcast on Indian radio and 6 Pack Band appeared throughout the country. The campaign was design to support Brooke Bond’s overall message that it helps “brew togetherness.”
“The brand is 113 years old,” Di Nonno continued, “and for a brand that’s that established and a household product to take on the issue of transgender people from the perspective of how do you embrace it, how do you combat gender norms … their approach was incredibly inventive.”
This is the second year that the Glass Lion has been awarded at Cannes. Originally inspired by Lean In, the women’s equality nonprofit started in 2013 by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the Glass Lion last year went to another Indian campaign. In “Touch the Pickle”, by BBDO, a sanitary napkin brand aimed to dispel taboos about menstruation in Indian society.
“Advertising has the power to change the way we see the world—and how we see ourselves,” said Sandberg, reacting to the news of this year’s winners. “That’s why the way we portray women and men in media is so important. You can’t be what you can’t see—and these companies are creating advertising that is representative of the world as it should be.”
Download our free report, Understanding Transgender Inclusivity in Advertising, for more on why consumers appreciate brands that take a well-considered approach to transgender issues in their advertising.