Our ECD/CEO Nick Bailey’s take on judging the brand new Glass Lions at Cannes

Glass Lion awards

Last night was a landmark for the advertising industry, with the inaugural Glass Lion: Lion For Change​ awards, held in the Grand Auditorium.

The Glass Lion recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice, through the conscious representation of gender in advertising.

Isobar UK CEO & ECD Nick Bailey was one of only two men on the eight strong Glass Lion Jury, “Being a part of a minority was a strange feeling, the jury worked incredibly well together and it was a brilliant experience and an inspiration. Diversity is key to ground breaking ideas.”

Nick Bailey spoke more in depth about the new Cannes Lions award.


Q. Tell me a little bit about the glass lion, what is it?

The Glass Lion exists to reward work from our industry that challenges gender stereotypes and that addresses issues of gender inequality. It came into being because we recognise that, although we are changing as an industry, we are not changing fast enough and also that, as communicators we have the power to shape and influence culture as well as simply to reflect it, and that we have a responsibility to use what power and influence we have constructively. The advertising and communications industry has been slow to adopt the processes and practises that have helped to address gender imbalance in other sectors so we’re coming to this late. The Glass Lion is an accelerator for change and a move to a more diverse and dynamic industry and, ultimately better work and better outcomes for our clients.

Q. What does it mean to you personally to be selected as a jury member?
It’s an enormous honour to have been invited to be part of this, the first Glass Lion. As a white Anglo-Saxon man I have been able to pursue my career and my creative ambitions relatively uninhibited compared to many other people and this experience gives me a responsibility to any influence that I have constructively to address any imbalance of opportunity that exists in our industry and to contribute to positive cultural change if I can.

Q. What are you looking for specifically when considering your decision for the award winner(s)?
We are looking for work that brings innovative, simple, compelling creative solutions to deliver real, measurable and lasting change. We want to reward work that meets the same high standards, from idea through to execution, that have always been celebrated at Cannes, and that uses the power of that creativity progressively and positively to shift perceptions and change behaviour.

Q. What has been the historical representation of women in advertising?
John Berger wrote, ‘Men look at women, women watch themselves being looked at’, which I think eloquently sums up the history of the representation of women in advertising, both within the creative work itself and as originators of the work. The simple fact is that, broadly, the role of women in our industry has been largely determined by men. We need more senior women, and women in more positions in general across our industry so that women themselves are determining how they themselves are represented and how they themselves can best contribute and drive the creative agenda.

Q. Why is it an important award for our industry as a whole?
Our industry must change and become more diverse in order to flourish and survive, and this award is a small but significant step in accelerating that process of change. Innovation and creativity depend on bringing diverse experiences, capabilities and insights together collaboratively. The nature of creativity and innovation are that we don’t know what the outcome might look like before we start the process – right now the industry is to homogenous and too predictable and the work is consequently too homogenous and predictable. If clients don’t get the creativity and innovation they need from their agencies, they will seek it elsewhere, as is already happening as new models emerge. Diversity is essential to our survival.

Q. What sort of message does the Glass Lion send?
The most important message is that, as an industry, we are no longer complacent about or simply ignoring this issue. It sends a message that gender inequality matters and must be actively addressed.

Q. Can you name some of the nominees you were particularly impressed by and why?
What impressed me across the board was how broad the range was, both in terms of the work and the challenges it addressed, the creative scope of the work and the geographic spread from which it originated. As a jury it was a humbling experience to learn about challenges from outside our own regions and experience that were completely unknown to us, that were being confronted with vigour, creativity and optimism.

Q. Is advertising an effective medium for promoting gender equality? What sort of impact does it have on society?
Advertising is almost the most effective medium, because it is so ubiquitous. We are all touched daily by hundreds of creative assets, stories, messages and experiences, all of which influence us as individuals and which have a broader, collective influence on culture. Advertising can help determine how we see ourselves, the world around us and the people we share that world with – indeed it’s actively designed to do that.  Because of that, as creative communicators we have a responsibility to be conscious of that influence and to use it progressively and positively.

Watch Nick Bailey talk about the Glass Lion here.

President of the Glass Lion Jury, Cindy Gallop (also founder of IfWeRanTheWorld and MakeLoveNotPorn) awarded the Glass Lions on stage.

The Glass Lion Grand Prix winner was Touch The Pickle, Proctor and Gamble India by BBDO India.

A huge congratulations to sister agency Carat, whose work This Girl Can won Gold.

Congratulations to all work that was shortlisted and won awards. For a full list of winning work, click here.


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