It's the 66th year of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Four years back, the festival also launched the Glass Lions that specifically recognises work that challenges gender bias and shatters stereotypical images of men and women in marketing messages. This session was a clarion call for the festival to take the next steps.
Senior women leaders from Cheil Worldwide took stage at the Cannes Lions to take another leap in the evolution. In a session titled, "Awaken the lioness: the battlefront of Asian women" Kate Hyewon Oh, CCO, Cheil Worldwide, Pully Chau, group CEO, Cheil, greater China and Atika Malik, COO, Cheil India took the audience through a tale on how the gender empowerment story was progressing in key markets of Asia like South Korea, China and India.
Malik then cited her own example of receiving support and inspiration both at home and office. She said she was lucky when her senior agreed to extend her maternity leave to 11 months and added, "a supportive work environment is very important."
Hyewon Oh said that media movies, TV shows and commercials moving away from stereotypes. Malik proceeded to give two examples from India. One was the story of a Bollywood movie Dangal, based on a true story of a father who encouraged his daughters to become medal-winning wrestlers. The other was a Cheil India creative for the Samsung technical school.
Chau said that in China, "Financial independence has allowed women make decisions for themselves. She marketing is a trend", she said showing advertising on how Durex advocated women first and Infinity Cars.
Speaking about her own personal battle in becoming the head of the agency, Chau said "it was a long uphill battle," where she had to wait for a couple of years and wait out five other aspirants for the post before she was finally given the mandate. The result: she turned around the agency in eight months flat and brought in a slew of new business, something that could have been managed much earlier, if the agency gave her the responsibility in the first place.
The session ended on a positive note with Malik calling out to the creative fraternity "to come back and produce work that will awaken the lioness".