Cindy Gallop On Adland’s Responsibility To Reinvent Aspirational Culture, End Racism & Normalise Sex

Cindy Gallop On Adland’s Responsibility To Reinvent Aspirational Culture, End Racism & Normalise Sex

The world has changed as we know it, and with it, the potential for new world order, and whole new advertising industry.

Speaking at last week’s Cannes UnCanned event, advertising and marketing maven Cindy Gallop discussed why everything that’s happened in 2020 is good news for the world, and advertising; from how adversity drives opportunity to how the industry needs to reinvent aspirational culture, how to end racism in the industry and more. The session was sponsored by IPG.

“I’m a great believer that adversity drives opportunity,” said Gallop. “The events of 2020, a pandemic and Black Lives Matter, are ensuring that the world will never be the same again. And that is actually a very good thing, especially for those of us who have never the status quo to begin with.

“It’s only when things break down this awfully and completely that new models for new ways of doing things emerge, that never would have otherwise.”

And so there are currently two dynamics at play. There is what the pandemic and the protests are making happen as we speak, which is the breakdown of the old world order, and then there is how each of us seizes the moment and leverages that breakdown to make the things that we want to happen, happen.”

Gallop spoke on four “soundbite catchphrases” the industry consistently hears, and how new ways of thinking can be applied these sayings based on the events of 2020.

“We’re on a fast turnaround”

“The first soundbite catchphrase that we hear all too often is ‘We’re on a fast turnaround’. And that is usually when ones’ heart sinks at what we know is coming. Whatever it may be – a strategy, creative campaign, production, or pitch – we are on a fast turnaround is actually very good, in a way.

“The really interesting thing about what is happening right now is the time is working differently. The pandemic and the protests have both sped time up. Things that we were told, for so long, would take very prolonged periods of time to happen have now been proven to be able to happen almost instantaneously, when they absolutely have to. I want to urge you to apply that creatively.

Yet at the same time, Gallop also said time has slowed down because the world is consistently shifting between being in lockdown, to coming out of lockdown, to going back into lockdown, “so we all have more time to do things”.

“You have more time to make changes you have more time to rethink where you’re going, you have more time to focus on doing the things you really want to do that he would have otherwise. All bets are off, and I urge you to think about time creatively and make it work for you creatively because right now, time can do all sorts of things it never could before,” she said.

“It’s all about the work”

Another common industry soundbite is that “it’s all about the work”, and while Gallop said it is all about the work, it’s not in the way the phrase is currently being used.

Gallop has long been a supporter and champion of diversity in the industry, and said now is the time to end racism in the industry once and for all.

“It is all about the work and the very creative work we do,” she said, adding that it’s about the work we do to “end racism in our industry”.

“All you have to do is hire, welcome, and promote black talent. When you do that, you end racism. That’s all it takes. When you hire and promote black talent, you pay black talent and you channel wealth to black families and black households. You begin equalising the racist pay gap. And you begin building the black economy.”

She also said when you hire black talent, you bring the black lens to bear on creative work.

“You no longer have to worry about “Is this commercial diverse enough? Do we have enough diversity in this photography?’ Because when you have black talent creating the ads, approving the ads, producing the ads, directing the ads and running the ads, you don’t even have to think about that anymore because you have brilliant creative diversity”.

“Will this win a Lion?”

Gallop also spoke to the idea of the industry needing to reinvent aspirational culture and that the be all and end all should not be about whether the work will win a Cannes Lion award.

“Is this a Lion? Will this will a Lion? It’s the ultimate aspiration, creatively in our industry, to win a Lion, to have the opportunity to walk the stage, because what you have produced creatively has been celebrated as the best, the best. That is our industry’s aspiration. I want to urge you, at this moment in time to do something that I have honestly been urging for a long time, which is to creatively, seize the opportunity to reinvent aspirational culture.”

Gallop said this is crucial, especially as the industry “deals in stereotypes”.

“We are an enormously powerful force in popular culture. What we showcase in advertising shapes societal attitudes and behaviour and that is why stereotypes are harmful. When we reinvent aspirational culture and what we represent as aspirational […] we inspire people to live the best life they can, within the world as it really is.”

A recent study revealed the advertising industry is out of step with what consumers want and value, which Gallop said is because the industry is stuck in a “time-warp”.

“We’re stuck in a time warp because of how good it originally was back in the Madison Avenue days at inventing aspirational culture. What we do brilliantly create desire. And that trapped us into a very conventional mindset, which is only a very conventional mindset because the industry is still dominated by white men. And it is still dominated by white men of certain socio-economic backgrounds.

“For decades, we have been overdue and reassessing the fact that it’s not about persuading people to want material goods. There are so many ways in which we could be reinventing aspirational culture in ways that are actively useful to consumers and beneficial and will sell a product.”

Normalising female empowerment and sexualisation 

As an avid speaker on and promoter of normalising sex, Gallop also spoke on the issue of taking ‘slut-shaming’ out of sexual representation and female empowerment in advertising.

She said fundamentally, women need to be on board in every part of the creative process in order for change to happen.

“To change what you’re talking about, we need women creating the ads, directing the ads and approving the ads. It doesn’t matter what brilliant ad that one female team in the otherwise male dominated creative department makes. It doesn’t matter how brilliant the campaign that they come up with it is, if they have to present it to a white male creative director, for approval, who is going to apply the white male lens to.

“We have to operate the female lens on every single point of the creation, production, distribution and supply chain to get the kind of work out that speaks to us, and normalises female sexuality. When you do that, you end slut shaming.

“I’m going to fucking well show you” 

For years Gallop has been fighting the good fight, attempting to create a more diverse and equal industry. Gallop reflected the only way change will happen is a “complete and fucking disaster, and now we have it,” she said.

And yet, change has certainly been slow, so what keeps her going through all the demoralising challenges?

“What keeps me going, the challenges I’ve faced building Make Love Not Porn and trying to make change happen in this industry – the single thing that most motivates me is a dynamic that I call: ‘I’m going to fucking well show you. That’s what keeps me going.”

You can watch the full session HERE.

Massive thanks to our Cannes UnCanned sponsors!



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