Cannes Lions hires The Unmistakable as DEI consultancy

The appointment comes months after the organization came under scrutiny for removing the only person of color from the dean's list of the Cannes Lions School.

(Photo credit: Getty Images).
(Photo credit: Getty Images).

Cannes Lions has appointed The Unmistakables as its DEI specialist consultancy, the organization said on Thursday. 

The Unmistakables will conduct a “full and independent review” of Cannes Lions’ diversity practices and processes. 

The selection of the consultancy came as a result of a “robust, tender process involving a number of potential specialists,” said Camilla Lambert, head of press and PR at Cannes Lions. 

The appointment comes after Cannes Lions, which produces the prestigious creative industry awards program in the South of France, committed to progress on DEI following a controversy over leadership appointments at the Cannes Lion School. 

In May, Cannes Lion came under fire on social media after replacing the only dean of color at the Cannes Lion School, its career accelerator program for young industry professionals, with a white person, calling into question its commitment to diversity in advertising. 

Lecturer and chairman at Hyper Island, Abrahm Abbi Asefaw, called out Cannes in a Twitter thread, saying the organization removed his deanship and replaced him with a white person after he repeatedly requested his position be filled by a person of color. 

Ad industry pros reacted on Twitter by sharing messages of support for Asefaw and calling out the organization for its lack of diversity. 

Cannes Lions met Asefaw privately and later issued a formal apology on its website, noting that the Roger Hatchuel learning academy will be run by two program alums from Kenya and Ecuador, alongside a course facilitator. 

In the statement, Cannes asserted its commitment to work with a DEI consultancy and said it “will report on each stage of the process” and “will share with [its] community the policies on DEI that are defined as part of the process.” 

“We hope and believe that with the help of clear, expert outside eyes we will make the step-change that is clearly necessary,” the statement reads. 

Earlier this week, Cannes Lions announced that it has added a creative B2B excellence award for the 2022 festival, which it plans to host in person in the eponymous city in June.

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