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French Ad Industry’s Lionesses Ready to Roar Again at Cannes Lions

Awards and Events 703 Add to collection

Following "nocturnal operations" last week, the organisation defending women, Les Lionnes, will host an alternative International Festival of Creativity to award the most deserving campaigns

French Ad Industry’s Lionesses Ready to Roar Again at Cannes Lions
Les Lionnes (The Lionesses) will be showing up at Cannes Lions and starting up an ‘Off’ International Festival of Creativity next week - an unofficial alternative of their own. This follows a night of action taken against agencies in Paris last week.

The French non-profit organisation led by Christelle Delarue and created by a group of ad women aims to defend women and promote women’s rights in the advertising industry. It was born following the scandal of the ‘League of LOL’ (an online group of French sexist and bullying journalists and ad men), and after a column in Le Monde written by its president, Christelle. At the heart of the #MeTooPub (#MeToo in French Advertising) movement, it now numbers circa 200 members, all determined to highlight the working conditions in French advertising agencies, in order to foster a ‘New Deal’ for the industry. 

Since the various inquiries, led by both advertising holdings and French media, have brought, as they put it, “nothing new to the scene” and answered none of Les Lionnes’ demands regarding gender equality, respect and fairness in the workplace, they have decided to speed things up.

“What do Les Lionnes want? A clean-up operation in a toxic, sexism-ridden industry,” a statement from the organisation reads. “How are they doing it? By advocating female talent and by asserting sorority as an action principle to drive the predators out, which are still protected by some professional bodies.”

“When women don’t have a seat at the table, it means they are on the menu!” said Christelle. “The advertising industry is not one to look up to when it comes to equality, to say the least.” 

With 89% of creative directors being male worldwide, there’s no need to say more about the roles left for women. In order to condemn this iniquity and its “various sexist outcomes”, Les Lionnes conducted a “nocturnal operation” over the night of June 5th to 6th. 

Under the cover of darkness, members of the organisation posted testimonies of women victims of sexual harassment on agencies’ walls, before being stopped by the police, cutting the operation short. They were able to visit six out of the 70 agencies they had planned.


These testimonies were taken from Les Lionnes’ website, where women are invited to anonymously share their accounts of harassment they have experienced. You can see a small selection of these here:


Les Lionnes’ operation will be turned into a short film (to be published on June 11th) and will also be available on the website. 

“Les Lionnes asked for an evolution and failed,” continues the organisation’s statement. “Now, they’re demanding a total revolution.”

Next week in Cannes, Les Lionnes will set up an ‘off’ festival where they will be giving equality awards to the most deserving campaigns. The ceremony will be dubbed ‘The Cannes Lionnes’.

What do they mean by ‘deserving’? Les Lionnes mean: “designed by agencies that treat women fairly or more (gender parity is a minimum, for instance), in their top management, creative or production departments. 

“This initiative aims to promote female talent, shine a light on the roles given to women in the advertising industry, vastly centred around men up to today, and finally, foster the rise of future talent that will shape the advertising of tomorrow. An advertising industry that is healthy, respectful, fair, and, let’s hope, deserving of a future ‘Cannes Lionnes’ award.”

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LBB Editorial, Mon, 10 Jun 2019 10:18:28 GMT