Highlights from Empower Cafe

With day three of Cannes Lions in the books, now is the perfect opportunity to reflect on some of the amazing highlights from Empower Cafe’s first year. 

The UK Advertising and Relo Metrics session, featuring Manchester United and England goalkeeper Mary Earps, took place on Monday in front of a packed out crowd. Mary made the point that she gives more leeway and support to brands who always backed her from her early days – demonstrating the importance of backing athletes and creators.

Our very own Senior Account Director and Outvertising Co-Director of Communications Anthony Leeds moderated a panel – ‘Being Seen: Celebrating LGBTQAI+ Trailblazers and Their Legacy of Authenticity’. It featured Nneka Onuorah, Emmy Award winning Director and Producer, Tamara Littleton, Founder and Executive Chair at The Social Element and Lucy Rennie, Co-Director of Awards, Outvertising and Brand Strategy Director.

  • Lucy made the point that “advertising is lagging behind entertainment in terms of LGBTQIA+ representation – which in itself still has a way to go. Brands looking to do better don’t have to be perfect but they do have to commit to what it means to be a fully inclusive business.” 
  • Nneka highlighted a lack of accurate depictions of LGBTQIA+ people on the screen. “In real life a lot of us are thriving but there is a common monolithic and sad depiction of these characters.” She went on to add that “we need to go beyond sex and grief in representation of LGBTQIA+ people – advertising has a key role to play in that.”
  • Tamara pointed out that some brands fear celebrating pride in fear of backlash. However, “vocal support helps to reduce that backlash so it’s more important than ever. I didn’t know we would get to a place where there was backlash for having a DEI team, as is happening in the US. Resilience is key.”

Tuesday’s headline panel was ‘BBC Studios on female leadership, confidence and finding your power’. The session wasn’t short of incredible speakers, with Jasmine Dawson, SVP Digital at BBC Studios, Natasha Byrne from UM Worldwide, Katty Kay, US Special Correspondent for BBC Studios and Katie Grosvenor, Chief Engagement & Growth Officer at GroupM UK, all taking to the stage. Here’s a quick rundown of the key talking points:

  • When discussing the different ways men and women view and use their power, Katty stated that “men tend to see power as ‘power over’ – over people, over business. Women see it as ‘power to.’ Power to create impact; power to get results. Research shows women often don’t want power – not just because of the sacrifice but the power itself isn’t very appealing. We are more interested in achieving the results and affecting change. When we start to understand how women lead differently it gets exciting.”
  • Speaking on the power of embracing diversity and the unique approaches it affords agencies, Katie pointed to evidence that showed “when we have diverse perspectives in companies of men and women we solve complicated business problems in a better way.”
  • Meanwhile, Jasmine spoke about making the right decisions and the importance a good community has in helping you with your decision making. “How we lead and how we empower all our teams is crucial. Life is about finding the right balance for you and the way we lead should be about empowering teams to make the right choice. I’m an ambitious woman but saying I want to have power feels uncomfortable – and I think that’s the case for many women. We need to redefine this and we can do that through open conversations and empowering teams to feel safe in behaving in the way we want to.”

Our own Chief Client Officer Rose Bentley chaired a panel featuring female leaders from the media, advertising, and technology industries. They shared their personal journeys to leadership. The panel, “Trailblazing Leadership: Women Shaping Media, Advertising, and Technology”, featured Eva Bojtos, Director of Social Media at Sharkninja EMEA, Dionne Harmon, President of Jesse Collins Entertainment, Deborah Armstrong SVP, General Manager Media Networks and Advertising EMEA and Country Manager, UK&I at The Walt Disney Company and Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, CRO at Yahoo.

  • When asked how a leader can get ahead and stay ahead, Yahoo’s Elizabeth Herbst-Brady emphasised the importance of your teams and clients. “It’s about learning and putting yourself in situations to move forward and have the mental framework to accept that you don’t know until you learn.”

We will be bringing more updates and blogs with rundowns of talks happening throughout Cannes Lions in the coming days, so be sure to keep an eye out for more content.