The Glass Lion for Change is awarded to marketing teams for work that celebrates culture-changing creativity—think “breaking the glass ceiling.” This year at Cannes Lions, the Glass category’s jury president is Madonna Badger, founder and chief creative officer for Badger and Winters. Badger joined AListDaily to talk about how the industry is changing and why putting a woman in your ad isn’t enough to create meaningful diversity.
This is the first time Badger will serve as jury president, although she has attended Cannes three times before and served on the Glass Lion for Change jury two years ago. In 2017, she introduced #WomenNotObjects, a movement that differentiates sex from objectification in advertising. Badger was moved to receive three standing ovations during her presentation.
“It was on my birthday,” Badger recalled fondly. “It was pretty amazing.”
Last year, Badger also served as the ambassador for the Cannes Lions See It Be It mentorship initiative. This time, she will be chairwoman—a role she looks forward to with great anticipation.
“I get to meet all 20 amazing young women from all over the world,” Badger said. “I love to talk to all the young people and hear what they think and where this industry is going and what’s important to them. I love hearing from my mentors and peers obviously, but there’s something really interesting [about] being engaged with young people and their viewpoint of advertising. That will be the heart and soul of Cannes for me.”
Can you tell us a bit about the voting process?
We’ve been through over 200 different entries and have gotten it down to a shortlist and then [announcing the winner] will be by live presentation this year which will be really exciting. It’s also interesting to also be on the jury with some really incredible people.
How does your experience inform your judging and voting?
The number one thing for me is that it can’t feel like a gimmick where it’s just femme washing, transgender washing pinkwashing or whatever in order to get better interest. Really, it’s just a gimmick that they didn’t put any time or energy into and didn’t have it for any length of time. Watching for the gimmick factor is something I’m very keen to in the judging process.
How has the nature of your work changed in the last five years?
Certainly, there has been an enormous change in the last five years, but the biggest change is the realization of—and addressing the fact that—women are really guiding a third of the world’s economy. That recognition by giant companies all over the world has made women not only a focal point in some instances but being treated on a more equal basis. For example, [companies are showing] more women driving cars, [using them] in voice-over and more of women’s issues being taken up by major corporations.
How do you think the marketing industry perceives itself in 2018?
Confused. It’s a very confusing time. Actually, it isn’t so much confused as changed. There is so much change afoot in terms of reaching consumers and how to talk to consumers. When you have a sea of products that have very little differentiation among them, purpose can be an incredible point of difference.
I think that empathy is really the key to change. All advertising, marketing agencies (and frankly corporations) have to deal with [the fact] that the consumer needs to be empathized with in order to really understand how to reach them where they are. There are all these new media that we have to understand and empathize with her on [including] his or her way of thinking to make sure we are part of it. And of course, then there are things like the point of difference in the product itself—here it’s made, how it’s made, etc. In this hyper-transparent world, all of those things are vital to the advertising and marketing process.
What are you most excited for in the coming years?
I’m most interested to see creative that is surprising and a little bit scary because it’s something we haven’t seen before. [It will be a] way of talking to people and reaching people that feels completely fresh and new. I think there are many industries that haven’t even begun to talk to women in any kind of meaningful way, like beer or even the beauty category—it’s still very objectifying for the most part. I think there’s room in tech and cars and everything for us to have more meaningful conversations with men and women based on a more equal and just world.