Cannes Lions expands Jury guidelines to champion equal representation and confront inequality

Cannes Lions, part of Ascential plc, continues its mission to celebrate creativity that changes the world for the better with the introduction of updated jury guidelines for the judging process. The new criteria urge the jury members reviewing entries submitted into the Awards, to consider whether the work perpetuates negative stereotypes and inequalities.

The revised guidelines build upon the Objectification criteria introduced in 2017, in collaboration with Madonna Badger, which challenged jury members to use empathy when analysing a piece of work and encouraged the jury to reflect upon how they might feel if the person portrayed was someone they know and care about. In 2019 jury members will also be asked to consider whether the work represents deep-rooted stereotypical portrayals of gender, age, race, ethnicity, disability or other biases.

Chairman of Cannes Lions, Philip Thomas said, “The Lions our Juries award each year act as a benchmark for the global creative community, and it is more important than ever for our industry to showcase and champion inclusive, empowering, forward-thinking ideas. As consumers demand more of brands and businesses, these guidelines will, we hope, help to ensure that the work honoured at Cannes Lions is admired not only for its creative brilliance, but for its reflection of the world as a place of equality and tolerance.”

The new guidelines are the result of a collaboration between Cannes Lions and the Unstereotype Alliance, the industry-led initiative convened by UN Women. The initiative brings together leaders from across the business, technology and creative industries to address the portrayal and endurance of harmful stereotypes in advertising and content.

Daniel Seymour, Acting Director, Strategic Partnerships Division, Special Projects and Unstereotype Alliance, said, “UN Women is proud to be working with some of the largest advertisers, agencies and digital platforms in the world to eradicate gender-based stereotypes and shape the future of marketing. Stereotypes are hugely destructive yet invisible barriers that stand between us and a gender-equal world, sometimes making the difference between life and death. The advertising and media industry can collectively drive real change in the lives of women, men, girls and boys. And because we can, we must.”

The criteria represent Cannes Lions’ ongoing commitment to supporting a more diverse and inclusive industry. In 2018, €114,450 of the proceeds from the Glass: The Lion for Change entry fees was awarded to the Unstereotype Alliance and The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. The funding has enabled both initiatives to develop further original research on the harm of stereotypes in creative communications.

VP of Festivals at Cannes Lions, Louise Benson, said, “Cannes Lions shares the Unstereotype Alliance’s belief that creativity can drive positive societal change by eradicating harmful stereotypes.

These guidelines echo and enhance our other initiatives that address gender imbalance and inequity including See It Be It, The Female Founders Start-Up Academy and Glass: The Lion for Change.”

The 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity will take place from 17-21 June with Awards announced throughout the week. Further details about the Festival can be found at

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