The Glass Lion & What It Means For the Ad Industry
The inaugural Glass Lion is not, I repeat is not, a watershed moment. It is a sign of heightened enlightenment within the world of marketing and the world in general.
For several years now, the age of female empowerment and gender equality has taken center stage among the most important of social discourse in the first world. Whether illuminated by Tina Brown’s Women of the World conference or by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s book “Lean In,” it is more than a movement – it is a level set and the Glass Lion is a very timely reminder and reinforcement of that. There is plenty of creative work in the brand space this year that is more than qualified to be celebrated – not just for the insight on the issue, but also for the clarity, beauty, artfulness and cultural resonance they’ve brought to the topic. Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” featuring ballerina Misty Copeland and Proctor & Gamble’s Always “Like a Girl” are great examples.
However, this is not just a “first world” issue, it’s a world issue. There are amazing stories emanating from both the second and third worlds that need to be told, shared and celebrated by more people and by more brands. Frankly, brands need to bear more of the responsibility for not only telling these stories, but for taking and creating action around women that face more than just “first world problems” and have no choice but to “lean in.”
So the Glass Lion, while an amazing and timely marker of a newly enlightened and inclusive world, should also serve as a challenge to the brand marketing world to continue its efforts and tell more stories like those of Pepsi working together with Water.org to help provide micro loans, primarily to women (who pay them back at a rate of 98%), to dig wells in third world countries; or illy Coffee’s agronomists working with women’s coffee cooperatives to help them learn the best practices in coffee growing, which in turn helps raise their own quality of life by allowing them more control over the supply chain and the profits (in an industry where typically women represent 70% of the work force but only yield 15% of the profits).
Let’s make sure we tell and celebrate these stories, too, right alongside the ones that breakdown the everyday gender stereotypes of the first world, so that we truly can and do strive everyday towards more enlightenment for all.