Cannes Lions are once again being criticized for failing to meet industry standards for diversity, equity and inclusion.
A Brazilian creative group published an open letter to Cannes Lions CEO Simon Cook on Wednesday, noting a lack of diversity among the executives selected in Brazil to sit on the Cannes Lions jury in 2022.
The coalition was led by Papel & Caneta, a global non-profit organization supported by organizations including AUE, Chapa Preta and Publicitarios Negros, a group of 2,800 black creative professionals in Brazil.
A letter posted on an interactive website Dearcanneslions.com.brDirectly refers to Cook in bold white letters.
“Most Brazilian creatives you know may be white, but in fact more than half of the Brazilian population is black,” the letter reads. “So, out of 24 Brazilian judges selected for this year’s Cannes Lions, why is there only one black?”
The letter went on to add: “We understand that selecting a jury is not an easy task and there are many factors to consider, but as an industry we are lagging behind in making the urgent changes needed to advance this industry. We cannot be silent about Brazil’s lack of inclusiveness and representation that plagues society as a whole, as well as its creative potential.
“The Brazilian creative and advertising industry has made tremendous strides over the years with regards to the inclusivity and empowerment of black creative professionals. It’s a shame that an international organization like Cannes Lions can’t keep pace with the jury selection process.
“I have a question for Simon. If Khan’s criteria don’t take into account inclusiveness and representativeness, should they reconsider?”
This letter invites readers to tweet directly from Cook and Cannes Lions with the hashtag #BlackBrazilianJurorsAtCannes.
“It is urgent for the Cannes Lions Film Festival to reconsider its jury selection criteria,” said Gabriela Rodrigues, head of culture and impact at Brazilian agency Soko, in an email. “We now know that independent agencies and independent jobs are less likely to be selected by juries. We know that Lions experience is a contributing factor in our selection of judges. But is this the best indicator of creativity? And did it come from them to practice the inclusion and representation that the festival preaches so much?”
She added: “We want less political factors and more fairness. We want a space where bright black people who exist not only in the Brazilian market but outside of Brazil have real opportunities.”
This isn’t the first time the Cannes Lions have been scrutinized for their lack of commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. Last year, the organization called Abraham Abbi Asefaw, former dean of the Young Talent Education Program at Cannes Lions Roger Hatchuel Academy, for not replacing the dean of people of color with another person of color.
A few months after the incident, Cannes Lions presentation DE&I Consulting reviewed diversity practices and processes.
Rafaela Martins, A prominent Brazilian creative and part of the Papel & Canela teamBrazilian creative groupWe will continue to push forward,” he scolded the organization.
“This conversation is not about the interests of the group alone,” she said. “This conversation is meant to emphasize that the future of communication without a black Brazilian at the center is no future at all.”