The jury room will look a little different this year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where more of the jury presidents will be female than ever before. Three of the 17 juries at the main festival will be led by women—up from the usual one or at most two in past years. And the new two-day Health Lions festival, aimed at the health care industry, will have two jury presidents, one of whom is a woman.
That's significant at a global industry gathering where women have long been under represented in the jury room.
The Cannes festival announced nine jury presidents today, including female presidents for the Cyber and Promo & Activation juries. Susan Bonds, co-founder and CEO, 42 Entertainment, USA, will lead the Cyber Lions jury, and Susan Credle, chief creative officer of Leo Burnett, USA, will head the Promo & Activation Lions.
Next week the festival will announce the remaining eight jury presidents, including Renee Wilson, president, North America, MSLGroup, who will preside over the PR jury. (Ms. Wilson is stepping down from her role as the agency's president to become MSLGroup's chief client officer, but will keep the title of president until a new executive is named to that post).
Separately, the first-time Health Lions will have two jury presidents, including Kathy Delaney, global chief creative officer of Saatchi & Saatchi's healthcare network, who will lead the Health & Wellness jury.
"I'd love to see us have double that number," said Laura Desmond, global CEO of Starcom MediaVest Group and president of the 2010 Media Lions jury. "I do think it's a significant increase in the last three years. It shows Cannes is aware of the concerns and the issue, and is trying to take positive steps forward to recognize women in leadership positions."
Looking at the last five years, there were two female jury presidents in 2013, one each in 2012, 2011 and 2009, and two in 2010.
"Cannes has to create an environment of looking for diverse jury presidents, and agencies and marketers have to make their women leaders aware of these opportunities, and champion them," Ms. Desmond said.
As part of the process for jury selection, the festival does ask its country representatives to submit three recommendations for each jury slot for their country, and specifies that at least one should be a woman.
But that's not always enough. At least year's festival, there were no women on the mobile jury. The issue arose at the press conference to announce the mobile winners, and jury member Matias Palm-Jensen, chief innovation officer at McCann Erickson, said journalists should go back to their countries and tell their representatives to nominate more women. He added that in his native Sweden, there is a mandate to ensure that half of the country's jury members are female. He also said that he should not have to defend the jury composition. "I don't want to feel uncomfortable as a man," he said.
Jury presidents are usually chosen from the ranks of former judges, so prospective jury presidents have to be willing to put in the time. "It's a long-term commitment," said Ms. Desmond.
The other jury presidents named today are: David Sable, global CEO of Y&R (creative effectiveness); Amir Kassaei, chief creative officer, DDB Worldwide (film); Tom Bedecarre, chairman, AKQA (innovation); Matt Seiler, global CEO, IPG Mediabrands (media); Jose Miguel Sokoloff, president, Lowe Global Creative Council & co-chairman and chief creative officer of Lowe SSP3 Colombia (outdoor); Tony Hertz, proprietor and creative director, Tony Hertz: Radio & Brand Sound (radio); and Prasoon Joshi, chairman, CEO and chief creative officer, India & South Asia, McCann Worldgroup (titanium & integrated).