A Feminist Guide to Cannes Lions | 2016

We are finally at the point (thank goodness) where people understand that being a feminist simply means you recognize that women and men are intellectual and social equals.

Unfortunately, a very visible inequality still exists on stages everywhere in the creative and tech industries. So each June, I scout the packed content schedule for the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity (2014, 2015) for awesome women speakers and thinkers to help gender balance your week.

Who are you most excited to see? Tweet me @CandaceKuss

Kudos to Lions Festivals for continuing their super smart See It Be It program and for my first pick below.

ALL WEEK | MONDAY TO FRIDAY

Chief Creatives on the Beach | 13:00 | Cannes Lions Beach (Opposite the Carlton hotel)
It is too depressing to repeat the dismal ratio of female creatives in top jobs. So it’s great to see Cannes Lions achieve gender balance in this networking series. Other conferences (and agencies) could take a lesson.

Young creatives (and recruiters) can’t miss this chance to hear personal stories from these international ECDs, including: Eva Santos Bouzas, Emma De La Fosse, Laura Jordan Bambach, Josefine Richards, Judy John, Emma Perkins, and Dörte Spengler-Ahrens, as well as some pretty well known guys.

ALL WEEK | MONDAY TO THURSDAY

The Girls’ Lounge | The Penthouse Suite, The Martinez Hotel

One of the most useful icons of the fringe festival, The Girl's Lounge has grown into a real movement. They can be found at many industry trade shows, but they really shine at Cannes. There is a full schedule in addition to the pampering services, so make sure to register.

SATURDAY | 18 June

Lions Health is now rightly part of the full eight day extravaganza. I won’t be in Cannes yet, but if I was, I would not miss these two talks.

The Case for Unconditional Love | 12:45 - 13:15 | Inspiration Stage 
I just love this title. Empathy is one of the top meaningful trends I see in marketing and society and Debra Bass is bound to have valuable insights from her job as President, Global Baby Franchise for Johnson & Johnson.

Hope (I Die Before) I Get Old: Ageism and Health | 13:15 - 13:45 | Health in Focus Stage

There is no denying that our youth-centric culture hits women harder then men. Big, important topic.

SUNDAY | 19 June

Can Good User Experience Change the World? | 11:00 - 11:45 | Lumiere Theatre
I vote yes. Bessie Lee, CEO China for WPP, talks with Davis Lin of Tencent to share insights into the tremendous success of WeChat, arguably the most watched tech platform today.

Cindy Gallop deserves her own entry in any blog post about Cannes. The first jury president for the Glass Lions and a brilliant force of nature, she is amazing on stage. You can catch her on Sunday for Sex: the Final Frontier, on Tuesday morning to learn How to Change the World Through Advertising, or on Tuesday afternoon for a Tour of the Work you’ll never forget. Book NOW.

MONDAY | 20 June

I Need My Boss To Understand Technology | 14:00 - 14:30 | Getty Images Gallery
Hosted by my WPP mate Gemma Milne, Creative Technologist for Ogilvy Labs, this Meet Up networking event is a chance to meet like-minds and enjoy a bit of serendipity outside the Palais. Plus, get your portrait taken by a professional Getty Images photographer. Sweet. Register here and I’ll see you there.

There are quite a lot of interesting sessions on Monday to spark your week, so also check out Sex, Lies & Advertising with Madonna Badger on the main stage, How to Love Advertising… Again with award winning CCO Susan Credle and queue up for Airbnb’s Brian Chesky in Conversation with Joanna Coles, who btw is one of the best interviewers I’ve seen on the typically softball Cannes stage. Charming, but not obsequious, she’s worth listening to no matter who she’s interviewing. And don't forget the Glass Lions — the innovative award that celebrates culture-shifting creativity — are tonight.

TUESDAY | 21 June

 Gender Equality Is No Laughing Matter | 13:00 - 13:46 | Lumiere Theatre

I’ve chosen to focus on seminars with expert women talking about creativity, rather than those with women talking about diversity, but this one does both. Hosted by our friends at The Girl’s Lounge, the line-up features their irrepressible founder Shelley Zalis and players from NBC’s Saturday Night Live. It looks like a blast. This session was chosen for livestreaming btw, so share with your squad back home.

Lessons I Learnt from my First Start-up Failure | 14:00 - 14:30 Inspiration Stage
Another chance to learn from Bessie Lee, this time with her entrepreneurial hat on as founder and CEO of withinlink, an investment management consultancy and incubator.

WEDNESDAY | 22 June

Are you a career creative or a future ECD? | 11:00 - 12:00 | Delegate Zone
This is the kind of career development session that makes Cannes so valuable for young talent. CCO Kate Stanners will talk about the different characteristics and skills needed for these roles.

How To Make Sure You're Not Replaced By An Algorithm | 13:00 - 13:30 Inspiration Stage
A bookend perhaps to the above topic, I can’t wait for this one. The balance between technology and creativity is at the heart of what Cannes Lions stands for now. This power panel (67% female) includes the fabulous Dana Anderson, who has to be one of Mondelez’s most valuable brand assets.

Diversity is on the agenda for Wednesday as well with Unleashing the Power of Diversity in Tech with Girls Who Code but for my money AKQA’s Future Lions at a similar time is a can’t miss session for all genders. The ideas are innovation in action, as the only brief is do something that wasn't possible three years ago. 

THURSDAY | 23 June

Lessons From The World’s Best Marketing Campaigns | 14:00 - 15:00 | Level 4: The Press Centre
This is listed as a Fringe event and (strangely) located in the press centre. It should be on the main stage, imo. Register for this opportunity to hear from the brains behind both P&G’s stereotype shattering #LikeAGirl campaign for Always and Sport England’s amazing #ThisGirlCan campaign. Hosted by Warc.

Inside the Jury Room: Cyber | 12:00 - 12:45 | The Work & Awards Hub
There are multiple chances to hear from the different jury members across categories at Cannes. Take advantage of as many as you can. Hosted by Senta Slingerland, a friend and all-around inspirational woman, this one features Chloe Gottlieb, the Cyber Lions Jury President, talking about what won and why.

FRIDAY | 24 June

Masculinity Today: The Dramatic Shift and The New Normal | 13:15 - 14:00 | Lumiere Theatre
Friday's line-up seems mostly an old-fashioned sausage fest to be honest. So it is a good day for a topic we don't see examined as much. Especially if you believe, as I do, that how individual men view women is directly related to how they view themselves.

SATURDAY | 25 June

The Future is Rebellion with Amani Al-Khatahtbeh | 11:00 - 11:30 Debussy Theatre

If you aren’t staying until Saturday, you might want to change your plans so you can see Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, the founder and editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl.net. This online magazine for American Muslim women was started from her bedroom when she was a teenager in high school. Her mission: to normalize the word “Muslim” for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Never have we needed this more.

Follow and support Amani on Twitter @xoamani, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat: mgclique. This session was chosen for livestreaming also.

SUNDAY | 26 June | Bon Voyage

Here's a toast to the amazing experience that is Cannes and to a gender balanced future. While the festival itself keeps getting better with balance — 40% women on the juries this year — the overwhelming male skew at the top of most agencies means they keep sending more male delegates than female and pack their own speaker roster with the usual suspects. Come on guys. Let’s #ChangeTheRatio

Tweet me with your own must see seminars for the week. Follow me on Instagram and Snapchat: cmk15 for over-saturated scenes from the Croisette.

Candace Kuss

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search