Go­daddy and Cam­paign send six women from the cre­ative tech­nol­ogy sec­tor to their first Cannes Lions

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Di­ver­sity may have been one of the big­gest themes at this year’s Cannes Lions but the lack of it re­mained no­tice­able on the Croisette, with one del­e­gate com­plain­ing that the fes­ti­val looked like “a stag do”.

Mean­while, re­search un­veiled at Cannes by J Wal­ter Thomp­son New York and the Geena Davis In­sti­tute on Gen­der in Me­dia, which an­a­lysed more than 2,000 ads from the Lions ar­chive, sug­gests a link be­tween the lack of women in cre­ative de­part­ments and con­tin­ued gen­der stereo­typ­ing in ad­ver­tis­ing.

The study found that there were twice as many male char­ac­ters in ads than fe­male ones. Women were 48% more likely to be shown in the kitchen, while men were 50% more likely to be shown at a sport­ing event.

In a bid to bet­ter bridge the gap be­tween rhetoric and re­al­ity, Cam­paign teamed up with Go­daddy to cre­ate the Go­daddy Schol­ar­ship for Women in Tech­nol­ogy, which pro­vided the funds for six women in the cre­ative tech­nol­ogy sec­tor to at­tend Cannes. It is part of Cam­paign’s #Cam­paign­fore­qual­ity ini­tia­tive, which urges the in­dus­try to move from talk to ac­tion when it comes to ad­dress­ing di­ver­sity.

Kate Cox, vice-pres­i­dent and EMEA chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer at Go­daddy, says that all too of­ten women in tech­nol­ogy are un­der-rep­re­sented and un­der­paid. She ex­plains: “Cannes Lions will play a role in ef­fect­ing change. By part­ner­ing Cam­paign’s #Cam­paign­fore­qual­ity, Go­daddy has been able to shine a light on some truly out­stand­ing women work­ing in the cre­ative tech­nol­ogy sec­tor.

“Go­daddy is pas­sion­ate about help­ing do­ers, mak­ers and idea gen­er­a­tors, from start-ups and home busi­nesses to tech en­trepreneurs with am­bi­tions to be­come the next big thing.” Cox adds that Go­daddy will keep in touch with the win­ners to of­fer them ad­vice and men­tor­ing.

Here, the six win­ners share their in­sights, ex­pe­ri­ences and hopes for the fu­ture.


It feels bloody ob­vi­ous but why is a lack of di­ver­sity still such a mas­sive is­sue in cre­ative in­dus­tries, tech com­pa­nies and busi­ness in gen­eral?

I sat through a num­ber of talks on this is­sue and found my­self nod­ding along in agree­ment. Of course it makes sense that di­verse teams cre­ate more com­pelling and in­clu­sive work.

There is a rea­son why Al­ways “#Likea­girl”, Ariel “Share the load” and Dove “Cam­paign for real beauty” struck a chord around the globe – and not just with women. They tapped into very real ex­pe­ri­ences and es­tab­lished an emo­tional con­nec­tion with the pub­lic, which al­lowed the brands to tran­scend a flash-in-the-pan cam­paign and cre­ate a move­ment.

I also went to an awards cer­e­mony and sat fum­ing while group after group of male-dom­i­nated teams went on stage to re­ceive awards handed out by male pre­sen­ters and ju­rors (even though I was as­sured by many that I’d just picked a bad night for my first ex­pe­ri­ence of the awards).

In one talk I at­tended, a fe­male chief cre­ative of­fi­cer stated that we have to “look for the right peo­ple, not the peo­ple with the right ex­pe­ri­ence”. I have never been in favour of rules in how com­pa­nies hire, but some­thing needs to change. And not just in the work­place.

I went to the Univer­sity of Ox­ford as one of the “quota state-school­ers”, as many liked to joke – “quota girl” and El­iza (as in Doolit­tle) were just a cou­ple of my nick­names. These names put doubt in my mind that I had less right to be there than oth­ers. I fear for what forced hir­ing rules do to women in the work­place. We shouldn’t have to ques­tion whether we de­serve to be there or if we’re just there to tick a box.

I re­main con­vinced that the best way to en­cour­age di­ver­sity is through col­lab­o­ra­tion, not iso­la­tion. Womenonly events will only ever preach to the con­verted. Let’s push for di­ver­sity be­cause it cre­ates op­por­tu­nity and in­clu­siv­ity and pro­duces great re­sults.


After a week of meet­ing amaz­ing peo­ple over a glass or five of rosé, I re­alised I had more in com­mon with Cannes at­ten­dees than I first thought. Like me, the peo­ple who at­tend the fes­ti­val are am­bi­tious and pas­sion­ate about the in­dus­try. Like me, they are ea­ger to dis­cuss how we can im­prove what we’re do­ing and how we can make ad­ver­tis­ing more pos­i­tive and im­pact­ful. And, ac­tu­ally, peo­ple who at­tend Cannes also tend to be in­cred­i­bly hum­ble: they want to learn from their peers and draw in­spi­ra­tion from the amaz­ing work of oth­ers.

I think the main thing the fes­ti­val has taught me is that se­nior, inf lu­en­tial peo­ple within the in­dus­try are just peo­ple. I learned to ap­pre­ci­ate what their ex­pe­ri­ence has to of­fer rather than be­ing in­tim­i­dated. Be­cause, at the end of the day, whether you’re a ten-month-old start-up like Good­loop or a ten-year-young es­tab­lished player, we’re all united by a be­lief that ad­ver­tis­ing is im­por­tant and we all have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to make it a pos­i­tive force in the world.


I have learned so much. I have met Kathyrn, Tess, Tash, Ina and Amy – five women who are shap­ing the fu­ture for other women in the cre­ative tech in­dus­try. We have shared an ex­pe­ri­ence that I will re­mem­ber for the rest of my life. And the world of women in dig­i­tal doesn’t seem like such a lonely place any more.

I have re­alised that Cannes is not about the sem­i­nars; it is about talk­ing to in­flu­en­tial peo­ple and cre­at­ing a net­work of al­lies. So how can you find ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties like the one I have ex­pe­ri­enced?

Say yes. If you’re faced with an op­por­tu­nity and not sure whether you should say yes, go for it. When you see a com­pe­ti­tion that you don’t think you would ever win, en­ter it. You see a job that you would never get? Ap­ply for it. You never know what op­por­tu­ni­ties you may be faced with if you are brave enough to seek them out.

Say no. When a man treats you “like a girl”, when you are faced with dis­crim­i­na­tion, un­equal pay and dis­parag­ing com­ments, tell them that it is not ac­cept­able.

Say hi. Meet as many peo­ple as you can. Get your­self out there. There are so many in­cred­i­ble women in this in­dus­try and we have so much to learn from and be in­spired by each other.

“Peo­ple are ea­ger to dis­cuss how we can im­prove what we’re do­ing and how we can make ad­ver­tis­ing more pos­i­tive” Amy Wil­liams, founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, Good-loop


For me, the most out­stand­ing talk was by Sh­eryl Sand­berg, who spoke about gen­der equal­ity’s power in ad­ver­tis­ing and busi­ness. An­other high­light was the strong pres­ence of tech­nol­ogy – I par­tic­u­larly loved Youtube Beach and its Pride event. Mu­sic pro­ducer Alex da Kid spoke about adapt­ing to new tech – us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, Wat­son and sen­ti­ment anal­y­sis is the kind of cre­ative fu­ture that lies ahead.

The agenda, par­tic­i­pat­ing start-ups and short­listed en­tries for the In­no­va­tion Lions make one thing clear: tech­nol­ogy has fun­da­men­tally evolved the def­i­ni­tion of what ad­ver­tis­ing is. And now that the worlds of cre­ativ­ity, data and tech are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked, the need to col­lab­o­rate across in­dus­tries and skills is more im­por­tant than ever, mak­ing In­no­va­tion Lions a not-to-be­missed ex­pe­ri­ence.

The fu­ture of ad­ver­tis­ing, with­out a doubt, lies in start-ups and in­no­va­tion.


Di­ver­sity and gen­der equal­ity main­tained a strong pres­ence through­out the fes­ti­val. Within the first few days, I had al­ready been sur­rounded by fan­tas­tic fe­male speak­ers. My favourite talk con­tained the kick-ass line-up of Madonna Badger, Tina Brown, Sh­eryl Sand­berg and Marc Pritchard, who led me from rage at the way women are still be­ing ob­jec­ti­fied to hope for the great ways the in­dus­try can fight back.

A poignant mo­ment was when I saw the first panel of speak­ers that was all white and all male. I felt dis­com­fort and, per­haps un­fairly, a lit­tle dis­en­gaged. The pres­ence of women in these talks had be­come the new nor­mal for me and it had started to give me more hope and en­thu­si­asm that one day I could be­long on such a stage.

After this amaz­ing spread of knowl­edge, in­spi­ra­tion and fun, I am mo­ti­vated to help any­one who is pas­sion­ate about mak­ing a dif­fer­ence to be­lieve they can achieve it, no mat­ter their gen­der, race or class.


This year, Cannes Lions was brave enough to ac­knowl­edge the equal­ity is­sues that the cre­ative tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try, and the fes­ti­val it­self, have been wit­ness to for decades. Through the Go­daddy schol­ar­ship, I was able to be a voice for the un­der-rep­re­sented.

I rep­re­sented women in the tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try and I rep­re­sented Mind Doo­dle, a start-up in a fes­ti­val cel­e­brat­ing the big­gest brands in the world. A high­light of my trip was film­ing an in­ter­view with the Cannes Lions cam­era crew to ad­dress the prob­lem of in­clu­siv­ity.

Gabourey Sidibe, the in­cred­i­ble ac­tress best known for Em­pire and Pre­cious, said: “Women have been here just as long as men. We are quiet be­cause the male voice is so loud. The voice is boom­ing. But we are here too.”

The fes­ti­val has taught me that I can help cre­ate a boom­ing fe­male voice. We can work to­gether to cre­ate a bet­ter and fairer fu­ture.

Go­daddy Schol­ar­ship for Women in Tech­nol­ogy: Cox (sec­ond from right) with (l-r) Lytton, O’ Murchu, Cough­lan-allen, Mor­ris and Webb (Wil­liams not pic­tured)

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