Cannes Lions

A Transgender Pop Group Wins the Glass Lions Grand Prix

Hindustan Unilever's Brooke Bond Red Label Tea Fought Transgender Discrimination

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"6 Pack Band," a transgender pop group conceived by Mindshare Mumbai for Hindustan Unilever tea brand Brooke Bond Red Label, earned the Glass Lions Grand Prix at the 2016 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Monday. The Glass Lions category was introduced last year to celebrate work that addresses and seeks to make a positive impact on gender inequality, imbalance or injustice.

For the Grand Prix winner, Mindshare and Brooke Bond partnered with Yash Raj Films India to assemble the six-person group, who performed in a series of vibrant music videos for catchy tracks including "Hum Hain Happy," a cover of Pharrell Williams' popular "Happy." The songs also aired on Indian radio stations and on streaming apps, and the band even went on to appear at major Indian music events including Radio Mirchi's Music Awards. The campaign aimed to fight the stigma against the "third gender" while promoting Brooke Bond Red Label's mantra to "bring people together."

Along with the Grand Prix, the jury awarded five Glass Lions out of 151 entries. Jury President Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute for Gender in Media, cited Procter & Gamble India's "Dads Share the Load" as one of the other top contenders. Created for the Ariel brand out of BBDO India, the film continued last year's Glass Lion-winning "Share the Load" campaign. The new film depicts a man helping his wife with housework after many years once he notices his daughter, a successful professional, working non-stop for her family after getting home from her day job -- while her husband sits on the couch.

A pair of Glass Lions addressed marriage-related issues: KAFA'S "Legally Bride" from Leo Burnett Beirut set out to challenge the child marriages allowed in Lebanon by staging an uncomfortable wedding photo shoot between an older man and child dressed in a white gown, while SK-II's "Marriage Market Takeover" out of Forsman & Bodenfors Gothenberg aimed to change the conversation about China's "leftover women," a term used to refer to unmarried women 25 and over.

A Glass Lion went to Ogilvy & Mather Mumbai's "Beauty Tips by Reshma" for Make Love Not Scars, a series of jarring makeup tutorials from an acid attack victim. She points out harsh realities, like the fact that just like red lipstick, acid is readily available for sale on store shelves.

A final Glass Lion went to Diageo's "Never Alone" for Guinness, out of AMV BBDO London. Part of the brand's Rugby World Cup campaign, it eschewed the typical machisimo of the category to tell the story of how gay Welsh rugby player Gareth Thomas came out to his teammates.

Together, the Glass Lions winners reflected that "gender inequality is not just a women's issue," Ms. Di Nonno said.

Why They Won
Ms. Di Nonno called the Grand Prix-winning Brooke Bond Red Label campaign "incredibly inventive," citing how it delivered its message through a variety of platforms, from music to videos to experiential. "For us, it hit all the checkmarks we could possibly want."

Overall, she said all the winners "had to be really creative and innovative. Once you got beyond that, it was really about how you're combining a business imperative with messaging around social injustice."

The Jury
At the Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media, Ms. Di Nonno leads a team that works with the media and entertainment industry to improve gender balance, reduce stereotypes and provide diverse portrayals of female characters in entertainment. She oversaw a nine-person jury representing seven regions from around the world, made up of seven women and two men.

Looking to the Future
Just in its second year, the Glass Lions have recognized ideas that have worked to alleviate gender-related problems, but Cannes Lions CEO Phillip Thomas noted this may not always be the case. "We really long for a day when the Glass Lions can address a different issue," he said. "That is our plan. So when the community comes to us and says there is another issue in the world that is more urgent than this, that will be the day we move the Glass Lion to recognize something else."

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