Cannes Lions admits it ‘missed the mark’ after jury diversity is called out by Brazilian creatives

A group of Brazilian advertisers and creatives have written to Cannes Lions chief Simon Cook in criticism of the largely white jury for the Brazilian panel. Cook has admitted it "missed the mark".

Cannes lions revealed the jury for its 2022 awards last week. The Brazilian jury had 25 members, but only one is Black. 10 of the jurors are women.

According to mid-2021 figures from national statistics institute IBGE, 45.9% of the Brazilian population identifies as mixed-race, 8.8% as Black and 44.2% as white.

In response, a collective of industry professionals have demanded the selection process is changed to have a country’s proportional diversity considered in the criteria. It has penned an open letter to Cannes Lions chief executive Simon Cook, which is being hosted on a digital platform where visitors are encouraged to spread the letter on their social channels using the hashtag #BlackBrazilianJurorsAtCannes.

Gabriela Rodrigues is head of impact and culture at Soko, a leading Brazilian agency. She said it was “urgent” that Cannes bosses rethink jury selection.

“We know that currently independent agencies and independent careers are less likely to be chosen on juries. We know that having a history of Lions is a contributing factor in choosing a judge. But are these the best indicators of creativity? And is it from them that the festival intends to put into practice the inclusion and representation that it preaches so much?

“We want less political factors and more fairness in the criteria. We want space for the bright Black people who exist in the Brazilian market – and also outside Brazil – to have a real chance.”

The letter details the efforts made in recent years to advance diversity and inclusivity in the Brazilian advertising sector.

Last year, the Clube de Criação do Brasil, an organization that represents Brazilian creativity, elected a Black woman as president for the first time since it was founded in 1975.

In 2019, meanwhile, Felipe Silva – a Black copywriter who has been awarded at Cannes and many other festivals – founded the first free advertising school in the country that to date has helped more than 200 Black, LGBTQ+ and underserved young people.

Apology

In reponse, chief exec Cook said it recognised more work had to be done and that it "missed the mark" on jury selection in Brazil.

You can read his full statement below.

"We are committed to having more representative juries - but we are still far from where we want to be. This year, we have missed the mark on the selection of jurors in Brazil.

"I wholeheartedly recognise there is more work to be done at an individual country level. The Cannes Lions shortlisting jury will be announced next week and we will ensure better representation globally - and at a local level, particularly in Brazil.

"To date, our efforts have been focused on inclusivity and representation at a global level, with representation of Black people increasing from 8% in 2021 to 13% this year, and people of colour increasing from 37% to 47%. These are steps in the right direction on a global scale.

"Moving forwards we commit to reviewing our criteria, increasing transparency about in-country representation and ensuring juries at a country level are representative of society.

"I’d like to thank you for writing to me and for raising awareness of this important issue. We are doing the work to view everything we do through the lens of diversity, equity and inclusion and we’re committed to our juries being more representative of society, year on year."