Procter & Gamble won the Grand Prix for the inaugural Glass Lions for gender-equality category at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for BBDO India's "Touch the Pickle" campaign for sanitary protection brand Whisper. The better-known "#LikeAGirl" work for Always by Leo Burnett, widely touted to be a big Lion winner at Cannes, was a contender for the first Glass Grand Prix, and won one of the seven Glass Lions handed out in the category.
What won: In India, menstruation is treated like a shameful curse. Women are discouraged from pursuing normal daily activities during their periods, including touching the jar of pickles found in the kitchen of most Indian homes, because the pickles will supposedly rot. A groundbreaking film by the Mumbai office of BBDO India encourages women to defy tradition and taboos by touching the pickle jar.
An active teenage girl courageously touches a pickle jar and proclaims "I touched the pickle jar" as other women applaud. A voice-over urges: "Girls, let's make the taboos go away and touch the pickle jar."
The campaign went viral as more than 2.9 million women pledged to "touch the pickle jar" and Whisper's share of voice grew from 21% to 91% in its category. It created a conversation in India that ranged from a TedX Bangalore talk to the endorsement of a leading Bollywood actress.
Why it won:
Cindy Gallop, president of the first Glass Lions jury and founder-CEO of IfWeRanTheWorld/MakeLoveNotPorn, said "We were laser focused on work that challenges and shatters gender stereotypes and has the power to effect true cultural change. What made the [Grand Prix] decision unanimous was that we have in 'Touch the Pickle' a campaign that takes on the challenges of a huge gender issue … in a very open and disruptive way … and is humorous and engaging."
Ms. Gallop noted that the "Touch the Pickle" work "does it for a brand, rooted in its brand values, and taking on a responsibility we'd like more brands to take on."
Susan Credle, a Glass judge who was named global chief creative officer of FCB earlier this month, talked about how the campaign helps women overcome the sense of shame surrounding periods in India: "I've always said that if men got periods, there'd be a parade and bragging about who has the thickest stream."
Controversy or clear winner:
In addition to #LikeAGirl, there were two other Glass Lion winners that were Grand Prix contenders, including another P&G entry from BBDO India. "Share the Load" for Ariel detergent (the international version of Tide) was designed to get men and women to completely rethink the division of labor, which includes women invariably doing the family laundry, Ms. Gallop said. The attention to detail delighted the jury, including laundry instructions for men on the packaging, and a partnership with a dating site that let men make clear in their profiles if they were willing to share the load by doing housework.
From Uruguay, pharmaceutical marketer Urufarma and Montevideo shop Notable did "Feliz Dia Hombres" telling men on Women's Day that they, too, are free to read romance novels, drink diet soda, cry, and help plan how many children to have.
Ms. Gallup said the geographical diversity of the new category's 166 entries was part of what made the judging so fascinating. "It made all of us aware of issues in different countries we didn't even know existed."
The composition of the jury—eight women and only two men—was also a major departure for an awards show.
One of the two men on the jury, Almap BBDO partner Marcello Serpa, said it was "an educational process" for him to be in the minority for the first time in an awards show jury, when the typical jury usually has just one or two women.
"It's very difficult for men to go inside women's heads when he doesn't want to do it," he said. "We need to have more women in the creative department."
Philip Thomas, CEO of Lions Festivals, noted that the 2015 entry fees for the Glass category will be donated to gender-equality causes. In fact, festival delegates will get to vote on where the money goes. Starting Tuesday evening, each delegate will have a daily digital wallet of 10 euros to donate to one of 10 selected causes until the end of the festival, Mr. Thomas said.