Female Futures

The influential consumer and technology trends that are driving a female future that rewrites narratives around gender, career and family

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24 : 06 : 19

At Cannes Lions 2019, brands and industry experts examined the future of creativity and what purposeful advertising really means.

Cannes Lions 2019: The representation of women is in flux

#ShowUs by Dove, Getty Images and Girlgaze

During the five-day creative festival, the burgeoning Female Future was a celebrated topic of conversation. Campaigns focused on empowering women were prominent, from an unbiased search engine to a music video encouraging women to check their breasts. Meanwhile, female experts took to the various stages to discuss how brands can be a part of this future.

South Korea-based advertising agency Cheil highlighted the need for Cannes Lionesses as well as Lions in a discussion that explored the all-too-common misrepresentations of Asian women. Offering local nuances from South Korea, China and India, Cheil greater China CEO Pully Chau, its chief operating officer in India Atika Malik and chief creative officer Kate Hyewon Oh sought to challenge its poll results that found that 43% of consumers see Asian women as ‘hard working and conscientious’ and 17% see them as an ‘exotic beauty’.

Later during the festival, Dove, Getty and Girlgaze brought their combined #ShowUs project to Cannes. The project is the largest collection of stock imagery created by female-identifying individuals, with 5,000 un-retouched images taken by a diverse range of creatives from South Africa to Japan. The images, which are available to download via Getty, aim to shatter rigid and algorithmic definitions of beauty, instead offering myriad approaches to female identity. ‘It’s going to be the little incremental changes that fund the revolution,’ said Rebecca Swift, creative insights director at Getty Images.

Cannes Lions 2019: Luxury brands are learning from failure

Gucci and Dapper Dan 2018, US. Photography by Ari Marcopoulos Gucci and Dapper Dan 2018, US. Photography by Ari Marcopoulos
Gucci and Dapper Dan 2018, US. Photography by Ari Marcopoulos Gucci and Dapper Dan 2018, US. Photography by Ari Marcopoulos

High-profile brand scandals have been worryingly prominent over the past 12 months. Yet, to rebuild their reputations and secure public forgiveness, these companies are increasingly finding ways to bounce back through creative campaigns.

Ashley Galina Dudarenok, an author and expert on marketing in China, shed light on why the now infamous #DGLovesChina campaign caused many Chinese consumers to boycott Dolce & Gabbana. ‘China went through 300 years of humiliation by Western powers,’ she explained. ‘That’s why they react so strongly when their new-found nationalism and home pride is being somehow attacked.’ According to Asia’s Top 1,000 Brands ranking, Dolce & Gabbana has fallen 140 places in 2019. To move past this, Dudarenok believes brands must cooperate more closely with local companies and be part of their eco-systems in order to win over customers.

This is something that Kering-owned brand Gucci has learned to navigate. Gucci executive vice-president of brand and customer engagement Robert Triefus was quizzed on the brand’s recent press scandals by Steve Stoute, the founder of culture agency Translation. In 2018, Stoute worked with Gucci to respond to the accusations of appropriation that followed the fashion house’s 2018 Cruise collection, inspired by Harlem designer and haberdasher Dapper Dan. ‘Alessandro made an item that referred to a Dapper Dan piece, which he was sued for [in the 1980s],’ said Triefus. ‘Now, 25 years later, he is inspiring luxury brands.’ To this end, Gucci opened an atelier in Harlem in partnership with Dapper Dan himself, ‘converting a press disaster into a cultural collaboration’.

Cannes Lions 2019: Branding means more than surface decoration

Plastics for Change and The Body Shop Plastics for Change and The Body Shop

An assortment of the world’s most respected experts explored how brands must build purpose to remain relevant in uncertain times.

Jessie MacNeil-Brown, global head of activism at The Body Shop, discussed how brand activism could tackle the world’s most pressing issues. In her talk at Cannes, she drew attention to the importance of reflecting a sense of purpose both internally and externally, in order to effect social change at every level: ‘People are scared of activism both outside and inside organisations. Brands must encourage them to find their own version of activism.’

In line with our macrotrend Uprooted Diets, global sustainability lead for Knorr Unilever Dorothy Shaver highlighted the need to re-invent the way we eat and produce food with a limited negative impact on people and the planet. She introduced the brand’s Future 50 Foods report, which features 50 ingredients selected for their nutritional value and relatively low impact on the environment.

As MacNeil-Brown explains, being an activist brand isn’t limited to the realm of sustainability. This was demonstrated by the advertising agency Scholz & Friends, which won the PR Grand Prix. It protested against the luxury tax on menstrual products in Germany by placing organic tampons inside a book, a product that is taxed at 7%, whereas tampons are taxed at a rate of 19%.

To learn more about activist branding, book our Future of Brand Purpose presentation.

Cannes Lions 2019: LGBT+ marketing isn’t just for Pride Month

Whats in Pronoun by Posture Media

LGBT+ consumers are jaded by empty, pink-washing campaigns and want brands to be allies, not just marketers. Tag Warner, CEO of Gay Times, explained that brands should avoid slapping a rainbow flag on their logo once a year, and should instead ensure LGBT+ culture is represented continuously across their internal and external operations.

Bringing its mission to the LGBT+ Terrace Stage was Posture Media, a New York-based studio of non-binary creatives. In order to encourage greater inclusivity in advertising and media, the company acts as a diversity consultant for brands such as Ace Hotel and Mastercard, creating an alternative safe space for brands to ask all the questions they want about what it means to identify as non-binary or transgender. During the session, co-founder Winter Mendelson unveiled a toolkit for understanding identity, suggesting companies can start with small actions, such as including pronouns in our email signatures.

Attendees also heard what’s next for Asia’s first – and the world’s largest – LGBT+ streaming service, GagaOoLala. With over 1,000 pieces of gay and lesbian entertainment content, the Taiwanese platform is preparing for its launch in India, before being introduced globally in 2020. ‘We’re able to have a sustainable market in Asia because LGBT+ characters in media such as Netflix are typically censored,’ said Jay Lin, CEO.

Stat: Cash-strapped Millennials may not be worth your time

During Cannes Lions 2019, a talk by AARP on The 50+ Goldmine raised an important point – Millennials are broke, so why are brands still trying to target them? Martha Boudreau, chief communications and marketing officer at AARP, referenced a recent study by Deloitte, which found that the net worth of American Millennials has fallen by 34% since 1996, owing to factors such as higher student loans and housing costs. ‘We don’t want to admit that they are broke,’ says Leo Savage, executive creative director at Grey. ‘But we love talking about them because they represent so many values.’

The panel went on to discuss the opportunities that exist for the over-50s market, and why brands are still obsessed with winning over youth audiences. ‘There aren’t enough employees in creative roles [so] we need diversity initiatives to include age,’ explained Bozoma Saint John, chief marketing officer at Endeavor.

To see why brands should rethink the segmentation and stereotyping of older female consumers, read our recent Flat Age Women Market.

Thought-starter: Why is Tiffany & Co still relying on romance?

Diamond by Hao Zhang Diamond by Hao Zhang

At Cannes Lions 2019, the luxury jeweller presented a campaign featuring real couples. But the brand missed out on a key opportunity to refocus the diamond industry’s gaze away from romance.

With the aim of ‘casualising the luxury sector’, Reed Krakoff, chief artistic officer at Tiffany & Co, presented its recent advertising campaigns at Cannes Lions. Among these was its 2018 film Believe in Dreams, featuring actress Elle Fanning and a rap soundtrack by A$AP Ferg. The film touched all the right bases at its launch – it was young, playful and perhaps most importantly, featured a single, self-purchasing female.

While this was a step in a fresh direction for the brand, Krakoff followed this with a newer campaign for 2019, Believe in Love. The film, set to a melancholic Lady Gaga track from A Star is Born, uses real-life heterosexual couples to market the brand’s Tiffany True engagement ring. But is this type of marketing still relevant? With LGBT+ couples and self-purchasers both growing audiences for jewellers, they’re groups not to be ignored – one-third of diamond jewellery purchases in the US are now made as a gift for oneself (source: DeBeers).

Furthermore, at time when marriage is in decline, these types of advertisements risk turning off today’s independently minded consumers. While it might be difficult to avoid romantic narratives when marketing a diamond ring, Tiffany & Co is perfectly placed to disrupt its sector by illustrating new, more modern forms of intimacy and relationships than a heterosexual husband-and-wife-to-be.

For more, read our Uncoupled Living macrotrend here.

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