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Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions 2017: In Conversation with the Creators of ‘Fearless Girl’

The campaign cleaned up during Monday night’s award ceremony with a Grand Prix in Outdoor, PR and Glass

Cannes Lions 2017: In Conversation with the Creators of ‘Fearless Girl’

Picking up three Cannes Lions Grands Prix for State Street Global Advisors’ ‘Fearless Girl’ is “very surreal and something we can’t fully process right now,” according to the statue’s creators Tali Gumbiner and Lizzie Wilson, in an interview with LBB.  

The campaign cleaned up during Monday night’s award ceremony with a Grand Prix in Outdoor, PR and Glass – not bad going for two McCann New York creatives who have never had a piece of work entered into the Lions before. “It’s very humbling because the work that we saw in the award show on Monday was amazing,” says Lizzie.

The three Grands Prix awards are no big surprise – almost everyone we spoke to prior to the festival had it pegged as a deserved big winner. But during the development of the project, neither Tali or Lizzie ever saw it exploding in the way that it has – so much so that its original one-week long placement was extended to two weeks, one month and now one year (although there is hope it’ll be a permanent fixture.

“We thought it might create some buzz within the financial world because of where it’s placed and the purpose behind it,” says Lizzie. “But what we didn’t see was the world at large and women everywhere seeing themselves in it that much”.

Even McCann’s Global Creative Chairman Rob Reilly was up and down in his thoughts on the potential of the project. “Some days he’d come back and forth and say, “this is going to be huge!” and then he’d return and say, “no one’s going to notice this!” laughs Tali. “I think we sort of waffled back and forth as to what the impact would be and we were very nervous about so many details. In the wheels of production you lose sense of the bigger picture often because there’s just so much to be done”.

And that couldn’t be more true with this campaign – a bronze statue tends to take a year or more to be fully crafted, but Fearless Girl took only three months to complete, testament to the work of sculptor Kristen Visbal. Choosing Kristen as sculptor was (in addition to her pedigree as an artist) part of a concerted effort by Tali and Lizzie to choose women as much as possible to work on this project. “We wanted it to be about women, made by women,” says Lizzie. “I think they brought a level of emotion to the project because they have a real feeling for it.”

One of the most striking qualities of Fearless Girl is that, in a world and industry so currently obsessed with technology, a statue – one of the oldest forms of communication – has managed to impact so powerfully. What’s more, it offered Tali and Lizzie the opportunity to create a truly tangible piece of art that can last forever – a rarity in advertising.

“Everything in advertising is so ephemeral – you discard it in a month or so,” says Lizzie. “This is permanent and amazing, and it’s something you can take your parents to see. That never happens in advertising”.

“The process was different too because it was something we really had to get right,” adds Tali. “With a film you edit, re-edit, colour correct… there’s a lot of room for error and correction, so this was a really sobering process for me. Sculpturing materials represents how delicate we had to be with every decision and how much we really had to have a lot of foresight for what we wanted”.

The majority of conversation around Fearless Girl has been wildly positive, but the original creator of the Charging Bull statue, which McCann’s effort faces, has been vocal in his criticism of the project, claiming that it’s “violating his rights”. But both Tali and Lizzie are both level-headed when quizzed on the matter.

“We would love him to [be happy with Fearless Girl] but he’s an artist and it’s opinion, and part of what’s so exciting about this is that it has generated some necessary conversations about so many things,” says Tali.

“We also greatly respect his piece of art too – it’s a beautiful piece of art and it’s very meaningful to the city,” adds Lizzie. “We just wanted to add to the conversation.”

The pair were also keen to highlight the incredible team effort that went into making Fearless Girl a reality.

“We want to reiterate that this was a huge team effort and I’ve never been part of a team that has collaborated with a client so fiercely,” says Tali. “When we were going through the list of credits, everybody on there played a serious role. It was amazing to see how it took a village to raise a child, quite literally”.

Genre: Digital , PR