Cephas Williams launches campaign to take Black creatives to Cannes Lions

The Black British Network founder has launched a Crowdfunder campaign in order to offer more diverse creatives access to the renowned ad industry event

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, which brings together advertising agencies, clients and tech companies to celebrate advertising and marketing creativity via awards, talks and networking, returns in-person this year for the first time since 2019, and as a result, despite the ongoing impact of the pandemic, it is likely to be a busy year at the event.

While it offers excellent opportunities for networking, with top creatives and marketers flying in from all over the world, Cannes Lions is inevitably exclusive, with younger creatives tending only to get the opportunity to go if they are nominated for an award (passes to attend the festival range from 950€ for students to over 3,500€ for a full pass). This means access to the opportunities at Cannes are often only available to the privileged few.

This year, photographer, campaigner and Black British Network founder Cephas Williams hopes to raise £30,000 to take at least three Black creatives to Cannes Lions, in order to “enhance their experience by having them feel connected, included and benefit from an ecosystem of support and relationships that they can build over time”. He will be pledging £10,000 of his own money to the project, and hopes to raise the rest via other leaders in the industry.

As much as I appreciate efforts to try and make forums like Cannes more inclusive, it’s going to take people like myself taking action to help drive change in this space

“When I was in Cannes Lions 2019, I genuinely felt like the odd one out,” says Williams. “As much as I appreciate efforts to try and make forums like Cannes more inclusive, from my personal experience it’s going to take people like myself, who have a direct connection to the communities we represent, taking action and using our own platform and money to help drive change in this space. I may not have much, but with what I do have I want to give back and pay it forward.”

The Black creatives will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Cannes Lions, including accommodation, travel, festival passes and £250 spending money. Black creatives can apply to be part of the team via Williams’ website before the application deadline of May 22.

“I challenge all the leaders within my network with budgets in the millions and personal funds of their own to join me on this journey, to really put their resources and money where their mouth is and to engineer this change in a way that is organised, collective and speaks to legacy,“ says Williams. “If we want to see this industry change in the next 10-20 years, it starts from us not just inviting people to the party, and not just inviting them to dance, but giving them the floor to curate the music they’re dancing to and authentically contribute to the experience.

“I know what it’s like growing up as a Black person in the UK with little or no knowledge of forums such as Cannes and no access,” he continues. “I can speak from that experience and now I can do something about it.”

crowdfunder.co.uk; cephaswilliams.com

SENIOR DESIGNER

MANCHESTER