Cannes 2019: Grey wins Bronze Glass Lion

"First Shave" was one of only eight campaigns awarded in the category, while a Young Lions team wins a Bronze in Film.

The Glass Lion was established to promote culture-shifting creativity that has the potential to “change the world,” specifically when comes to issues related to gender inequality.

One Canadian campaign was among only eight that met the standards of this year’s jury.

Grey Canada’s “First Shave” for Gillette won a Bronze Glass Lion, for a video showing a Toronto-based transgender artist and activist Samson Bonkeabantu Brown talk about his experience transitioning and thinking about the kind of man he’d like to be, before shaving for the first time under the guidance of his father – a formative moment for many men. Grey worked with production partners Skin & Bones, Rooster Post Production, The Vanity, Cylinder Sound & Film and Fort York VFX on the video.

Glass Lion jury president Jaime Robinson, CCO of Joan Creative, said the jurors were looking to recognize campaigns that were not only creative ways to express ideas, but put some kind of action behind their message.

An example of that is the Grand Prix, “The Very Last Issue” by VMLY&R Poland. Amid a lack of sex education in Poland, many men in the country learned about women from pornographic magazines like Twój Weekend, creating a culture where objectification is the norm. When the magazine went up for sale, a conglomerate made of up of clients Mastercard, Polish publisher Gazeta and bank BNP Paribas purchased it just so that it could publish its last issue. The issue contained all of the same sections it typically did, except the nude photos, and repositioned them to be more positive and educate its male audiences on issues of gender and feminism.

“One of the very first things we did as a jury was look at the definition of the Glass Lion,” Robinson said. “There was a little phrase in there, which was ‘culture-shifting creativity.’ It became our touchstone, and when I look at this Grand Prix, I see culture-shifting creativity in spades… It uses the system to make a change against itself, and that is such a joy.”

“First Shave” was also one of the seven Canadian campaigns shortlisted for a Lion in Film, but none converted their nominations into wins.

Margaret Johnson, CCO of Goodby Silverstein & Partners and president of the Film jury, told strategy work like “First Shave” was well-crafted and had the kind of emotional resonance the jury was looking to reward, but didn’t feel as “big” as some of the other campaigns that were awarded.

“There was a lot of conversations about how amazing some of the messages were in the films,” added Julian Schreiber, ECD at Australian agency Special Group. “But we also studied the execution of them, the shape they take. So it was an amazing piece of film that spoke to us all, but the things that were awarded were probably just a better total package.”

As it did in Film Craft, the Grand Prix in Film went to “The Truth is Worth It” by Droga5 for The New York Times, a series of spots that used on-screen typography and audio from the newspaper’s journalists to track the path of a story from idea, through to research and reporting, until it is finally published. The Film Craft Jury selected the campaign for the way its technical elements worked together to enhance the idea, and Johnson said it was the best example of what her jury was looking to reward: a brilliant idea combined with a brilliant execution.

“The platform itself is also incredibly flexible, in that it can be as current as what’s happening in our world today,” she added. “I like that it’s not just a blip, it can continue on and has a bigness to it that can go beyond that one moment.”

The Film category was not entirely without recognition for Canada, though.

The Canadian Young Lions team, comprised of TrackDDB copywriter Thomas Zukowski and Zulu Alpha Kilo art director Michael Romaniuk, managed to win Bronze in the competition. Teams had 24 hours to respond to a non-profit brief, which this year was for the World Wildlife Fund’s climate change campaign.

Due to similarities in the brief, the Canadian team was able to take a similar approach to the entry that won them the Canadian Young Lions competition. Where their first entry used the hearts and thumbs up symbols from social media to show how they don’t help repair the destruction caused by climate change, the Bronze-winning video instead used the red notification symbol from unread emails and messages to point out things like old air conditioners and plastic waste that we similarly ignore. In using a slightly different symbol, the team pivoted the idea from one that encourages people to add action to their words, to one that fights their complacency.

“The first one was speaking to people who were aware of the issue but didn’t back up their social media posts with action,” Romaniuk said. “The issue here is more passive individuals who either aren’t acknowledging the issue, or choosing to ignore it. We thought the most universal sign for missing or failing to respond to something today is that message notification.”