Cannes Unpacked

The winner’s view. Rana Khoury

Issue 44 | September 2017

When you tell a random person on the streets that you have won a "Lion", they will look at you with an amused, yet confused face. And it's not only because they're total strangers.

Even your own mother has a hard time figuring out what winning a Lion means. So you try to draw analogies: "Mom, it's like the Oscars, but for creativity".

And then, excited and proud, she posts on Facebook that her daughter just won an Oscar!

Now, a mother's pride is always inflated. Nevertheless, winning a Lion at Cannes does bring its fair share of gratification. And it's a big one. Especially when you come from a tiny little country in the Middle East that rarely makes the international news in a positive way.

So, when you seize an award at one of the industry's most coveted festivals, there is a pretty intense feeling of ecstasy you cannot hide, however much you try. It kind of resembles a roller-coaster. You don't expect to win but, when you do, you enter a tunnel of trance and delight until you're out and it stops, slowly.

When I knew we won, the first thing I did was call the team. This bunch of great people with whom you spent days and nights bringing your idea to life, hoping that it will change the world around you and that the hard work, the endless back and forth, the relentless efforts will be recognised.

And this is the best part. It's not the stage, nor the after-party where everyone holding a Lion is the centre of attention... it's sharing the win with your team. Congratulating one another, thanking each other, making strange euphoric sounds but knowing that, on the other side of the telephone line, your teammate knows exactly what you mean and how you're feeling.

Then what follows is a collective sense of pride and satisfaction. Because this year, our five Lions had a special "roar". Our campaign, #Undress522, has contributed to change the situation of women in our country forever, building a steppingstone towards gender equality in Lebanon. We set out to challenge an archaic article of the Lebanese law that stated that if rapists marry their victims, they would be exonerated.

From Beirut, the campaign reached the four corners of the planet, and fortunately, the shameful Article 522 was abolished by the Parliamentary Committee, and is now waiting for Parliament to ratify it.

So when the winning campaign is for a cause you hold dear to your heart, the win has an even sweeter taste.

And even more pleasant is the fact that Cannes Lions festival is making real progress toward gender equality, from their introduction of the Glass Lion few years back to the increased percentage of women in their selection of judges.

For me, this feels natural. More than a decade ago, Leo Burnett Beirut started to put its HumanKind philosophy into action. It is the belief that human behavior can be changed through communication.

In 2009, the first campaign to ever win a Gold Lion for any agency in Lebanon was a campaign about women's right too. And it was by Leo Burnett Beirut.

I may have won a few Lions throughout my career, which can definitely boost one's ego, but every year there is always the voice of my mother that brings me back quickly to humble-land: "What do you mean you won a Lion?"

In 2016, Rhana Khoury also won a Glass Lion with Legally Bride' for KAFA, Silver with "What Girls can Do" for P&G.

In 2015 she won two Gold Lions, one for 'Lebanon4Sale' for Sakker el Dekken and the other for 'Vote for Us And We'll Vote For You' for KAFA.

In 2012 she won Gold with 'No Rights, No Women' for No Rights No Women movement.

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