In March, asset manager State Street — and advertising agency McCann New York — put a bronze statue of a defiant girl in front of Wall Street’s iconic charging bull statue.
On Monday, Fearless Girl swept the Cannes Lions, picking up the Grand Prix in the Glass, PR and Outdoor Lions categories at advertising’s biggest annual festival.
The sculpture, created by artist Kristen Visbal, was a way for State Street to call attention to the lack of gender diversity in boardrooms — and of course, to itself. But even State Street couldn’t have predicted how big a viral sensation it became. Installed on the eve of International Women’s Day, the bronze statue was soon trending on social media and was quickly hailed as a symbol of female empowerment.
We asked five female advertising execs to weigh in on what made Fearless Girl much more than a marketing gimmick, resonating with millions across the globe:
Wendy Clark, CEO, DDB North America and the Cannes Glass Lions jury president
Beyond its massive scale, reach and impact, as a jury we came to understand that indeed every woman could see herself and moments of defiance and bravery in her own journey in that little girl. And, at the same time, Fearless Girl represents our highest hopes and ambitions for the potential of all little girls the world over.
Devika Bulchandani, managing director, McCann New York
Fearless Girl is brave and vulnerable, defiant and peaceful all at the same time — qualities that make her magnetic to anyone and everyone. She has the innocence and vulnerability of a young girl, but her attitude and stance signal an inner spirit that says “I will not be denied.” In an era where women are marching, she communicates her fearlessness peacefully — by standing firm and standing still.
Jamie Gutfreund, global CMO, Wunderman
State Street literally put their money where their mouth is. This is not just them “talking” about a press worthy topic — Fearless Girl represents action. State Street can vote the shares they own against the company’s existing board of directors, so when they say “add more women to your board,” they actually mean it.
Elisa Silva, SVP and director of client services, SS+K
The best ideas make us feel something deep in our bones, and Fearless Girl really shook something loose in people. Everyone had an opinion and got involved in the dialog (and the retaliation, in some cases) — native New Yorkers, artists around the world, tourists, cab drivers, people in the middle of America and people on the coasts. The statue did far more than it was intended to do, by sparking joy, outrage, and spirited debate that extended well beyond gender inequality.
Laura Maness, CEO, Havas New York
This is exemplary of a modern CMO that isn’t afraid to challenge convention. I admire Stephen Tisdalle, CMO of State Street Global Advisors, for finding new and brave ways to deliver an experience that celebrates the power of women in leadership.
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