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CC:DC ambassadors here to spread the word on diversity

NOW IN its sixth year, the Cannes Can: Diversity Collective (CC:DC) was created to provide access and opportunity for people of colour and underrepresented communities in the marketing, advertising, communications and creative industries. Originally just a small group, it has grown into a dynamic cohort of more than 100 people from five continents. 

Founded by Adrianne Smith, now chief diversity and inclusion officer at FleishmanHillard, the CC:DC made history by becoming the first standalone activations at Cannes Lions and Davos, with its Inkwell Beach thought leadership platform. Smith and her team are back at Lions this week with a star-studded line-up that includes John Legend and Queen Latifah. For the first time, the fast-growing and purpose-driven outfit is also a Cannes Lions sponsor.

Smith continues to advocate robustly for a creative industry that looks more like the world we live and operate in. Against this backdrop, this year’s Inkwell Beach will present an exciting roster of events under the banner: “Don’t Believe the Hype: DEI will never DIE”.

As CC:DC has grown, it has established a network of talented ambassadors, who support the organisation’s ambitions — while also taking advantage of the many learning opportunities on offer.

Lo Harris, who attended Cannes Lions as a 2023 CC:DC ambassador, said: “I was captivated by Adrianne’s vision and her mission to bring young, promising, diverse talent to an industry event that has historically skewed older, whiter and more senior-level.”

Harris explained that CC:DC “changed my life. I came to Cannes Lions for the first time in 2022 with limited connections and no real understanding of what that opportunity really meant. Since then I’ve gotten to tour top agencies and meet creatives from the MENA region at Dubai Lynx, break bread with change-makers and visionaries in Martha’s Vineyard, and return to Cannes (twice!) to co-lead the CC:DC ambassador programme and make sure that more diverse creatives have the opportunity to get face time with top talent in the industry.”

This year, the CC:DC ambassadors will participate in intensive AI training, workshops and lectures as part of an ‘AI Hothouse’ activation. Among this year’s cohort of ambassadors is Anthony Williams II, who said: “After hearing the compelling ambassadors’ testimonies from previous years, I was drawn to participate. Their experiences appeared to be enriching and fruitful, fueling my passion to become immersed within this organisation.”

Looking to the future, he plans to “leverage the knowledge, insights and wisdom gained from this experience to further my role as a DEI practitioner in my daily endeavours.”

Another 2024 ambassador, Angela Guidry, said she was “passionate about increasing the representation of people of colour in our industry. I’ve noticed that people my age, particularly Black women in their 50s, are often underrepresented at events like Cannes Lions. I plan to use the knowledge and connections I gain at CC:DC’s Inkwell Beach and Cannes Lions to mentor and support individuals like me, helping them become trailblazers.”

Another of the class of 2024, Dasia Jones, said she was “looking forward to soaking up all the thought leadership on the beach. It’s clichéd, but I’m a sucker for new ideas and different approaches to culture. I find my creative spark the brightest after listening to the greats share their philosophies. It’s also so amazing to see such a breadth of age diversity.”

Hope Bryant, also a 2024 ambassador, said organisations and activations like CC:DC and Inkwell Beach were “crucial for the next generation because they create inclusive spaces where diverse voices and perspectives can be heard and celebrated. These platforms provide essential opportunities for underrepresented individuals to network, learn and collaborate.”

As a New Zealand Maori, CC:DC ambassador Léon Bristow said: “I’ve definitely had to battle issues of discrimination, underrepresentation and exclusion — which shaped who I am today. I’m now working in a job I’m passionate about, but I see that same marginalisation happening in our industry. However, I also see that Cannes Can: Diversity Collective is actively committed to challenging this problem.”


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