How to create a Cannes Lions Grand Prix winner

Leo Burnett Canada CEO and chief creative officer Judy John explains the process behind Procter & Gamble's Always #LikeAGirl campaign, this year's Cannes Lions PR Grand Prix winner.

What was the key insight of Always #LikeAGirl?

We did some research and discovered girls lose their confidence twice as much as boys and it’s at its height at the start of puberty. Always, a brand that is all about championing women’s confidence, thought this was a place we should get involved in and try to change that.

How did you come up with the idea?

We briefed the creative teams and tried to find a way to talk to girls about confidence. It’s a difficult thing because Always is a feminine hygiene brand and isn’t something girls want to talk about. Creatively, we had to bridge those things.

We briefed a bunch of teams from London, Toronto, and Chicago to work on this. We had a war room with all these ideas up on the wall, and one piece of paper in a sea of all these ideas – sentences, paragraphs, photos – had #LikeAGirl written on it.

I walked into the room, went straight up to that idea, and said "What is this?" There's something instinctually in you, when you see "Like a girl" you already know it is supposed to mean something denigrating. I found that really intriguing and, talking to the team, they said it means being weak or self-hard and we think we can change the meaning of it.

When you’re onto an idea like that and it’s so instinctual, every time you present it people’s faces light up and they know exactly where you’re going and they see the possibilities of the idea.

#LikeAGirl seems to reflect a theme at the moment. Does marketing reflect or shape the zeitgeist?

It’s a little bit of both. Sometimes we’re at the beginning of a conversation. People have been using the phrase "Like a girl" for decades and not had an awareness of what it could mean or how it could influence girls. We’re at the beginning of it just by raising it and saying "Have you really thought about this and how it affects girls?"

That’s why it’s caught on so quickly, so in this case we’re at the beginning of it, which is a really exciting place to be.

People use the word "gay" in the same denigrating fashion – could you reclaim that as well? How far can you take these ideas?

You could definitely reclaim that. There are a lot of things out there that we say without real thought behind the meaning of it, not even with great intent to insult someone, yet we can reclaim a lot of them.

How was MSLGroup involved and how did you work together on #LikeAGirl?

The relationship with MSL is a really important piece of the campaign and the growth of the campaign. Even at the beginning of the campaign, MSL was part of the research study, bringing it together, and finding that insight around girls’ confidence.

Were they in the room when the light-bulb moment happened?

Not in the creative part, but they were part of building out the idea, presenting it, and figuring out how to make it bigger. They came to the shoot and did the behind-the-scenes interviews with our director. They’ve been with us all the way through and are a really important partner for us.

Can you see a time when a PR agency would be coming up with that initial insight?

Yes, that could happen for sure. PR agencies are hiring more creative people and trying to move in that direction. It comes down to the quality of the people, like in all of our businesses.

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