Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Winning Gold for Pakistan

Published in Jul-Aug 2023

Atiya Zaidi on winning the Glass: The Lion for Change Gold Award for the ‘Schoolgirls Newscasters for EBM’ campaign at Cannes.

Yes, it was super exciting being a part of the short-listing jury for the biggest creativity festival in the world and judging an average of 300+ campaigns. However, winning the Glass: The Lion for Change Gold Award for our ‘Schoolgirls Newscasters for EBM’ campaign was a totally different ballgame.

Glass: The Lion for Change, “celebrates culture-shifting creativity. It recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice through the conscious representation of gender in advertising.”

It is also one of only two categories where every case has to be presented in person or online to the jury – and with the jury, every presentation is open to the delegates; in other words, everyone attending Cannes Lions can attend the presentation if they wish to. To make this even tougher there is a strict time allocation. Ten minutes for the presentation, 10 minutes for Q&A and two minutes to view the case study showreel. All you see in the room is the audience at the back, and upfront, the 10 jury members including the Jury President.

I was fortunate to be presenting along with the best person in the business of advertising – Ali Rez; our Regional Chief Creative Officer and one of the most awarded creatives in the world. Ali is also the first Pakistani to become President of the Jury at Cannes. In the 70 years of the Festival’s history, no creative from Pakistan or MENA region has ever been selected as the Jury President – until Ali Rez.

We had sat through a few other presentations beforehand to get the lay of the land, and we realised that this was one tough jury. All 10 had a highly developed BS detector. They were focused on results, ideas, their execution and our own passion to live up to the Lion for Change. This was not a normal presentation. This was a one-in-a-million shot where you are up against the best, the most passionate and most impactful work done around the world.

With wavering confidence and shaking legs, we started the presentation, and 22 minutes whipped past us. And we won Gold.

Now that it is all over, let me say that it does take a village to create work worthy of a Glass, and we were able to make this idea a reality because of our client EBM. Attiyah Inam, Senior Manager Corporate Communications and Aaminah Saeed, GM played a critical part by believing in the idea along with EBM CEO Dr Zeelaf Munir and Executive Director Shahzain Munir. Our belief in the idea was matched by their belief in the cause of promoting girls’ education in Pakistan. This was not a one-off campaign. It has been EBM’s lifelong mission to enable millions of out-of-school girls to get their right to education. Winning the award feels amazing and we are still pinching ourselves for having competed against the mightiest of creative individuals and brands in this category.

But we didn’t do it to win the award.

We did it to show the world that Pakistani creativity can compete and win on the global stage. We did this to show the world that Pakistani brands are making a huge difference in the lives and livelihoods of their customers. We did this to end the debate that Pakistan is not good enough.

When clients and agencies work together they raise the bar for the entire industry. When an agency’s creativity meets the courage of a client, the industry rises collectively and Pakistan rises too.

Atiya Zaidi is MD & ECD, BBDO Pakistan and co-Founder, Shero Space. The views in this article are her own and do not reflect the views of any organisation.