Commentary

Wearing Black At Cannes?

A new movement called #WomenCannes has launched to make sure the spotlight shines brightly at the upcoming Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on continuing gender inequality and sexual misconduct in advertising.

As I write this, my pc is flashing me a headline that Harvey Weinstein has been indicted in New York for rape and related sex-crimes. (I guess there is a god after all!). Another reminder that the industry and our society, really, have big gender inequality problems.

Here’s my issue with #WomenCannes, which I first read about in Campaign. And it’s not an issue with the movement per se. It’s their Cannes game plan, which is to essentially urge all attendees — men and women — to wear black as a show of “solidarity and safety for those who attend.”

Maybe the group will unveil more of a plan as we get closer to the show. But I work out of New York (yes, my world view is a bit warped, some would say by definition, but I like to think in a good way!). My point being that most of the industry is wearing black on any given day!

You don’t have to create a movement to convince Bob Greenberg, the legendary founder of R/GA, to wear black at Cannes or at any other time of the year. It’s his sartorial color of choice. And when leaders like him make that choice, others follow suit. They are influencers.

It just seems like a bit of a non-statement statement. Instead of black, why not a color or symbol that stands out more? Something that screams the message so it’s heard loud and clear? You’re talking about Cannes, about as big a public platform in advertising as you’re likely to get. Take full advantage of it.

You know, kind of like Howard Beale in the iconic movie “Network.” “We’re MAD as fucking hell about this gender inequality bullshit and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

Get a sponsor. Like IPG. They walk the walk on diversity and gender equality, if The Martin Agency and Campbell Ewald are any indication.

Get them to write you a check. Use the money to get 50,000 pins made, like election pins, but instead of vote for so-and-so or I like Blah-Blah, have the pins read, “Fuck Gender Inequality In Advertising!” Maybe have a family-friendly version too: “End Gender Inequality In Advertising Now!” It’s a global conference and a global problem, so you might want to think about having some printed in different languages as well.

That’s just one off-the-cuff idea. But a pin like that would at least be something tangible that people could wear, think about, bring home and think some more about.

Wear black? Guess what color T-shirt I’m wearing right now. Okay, it’s navy, but I have a ton of black ones too.

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