In lieu of the annual Cannes Lion festival that typically goes down every June in France, organizers of the largest gathering in the creative marketing community have launched LIONS Live, a virtual celebration of creativity and conversations around what’s next in advertising.

One of those discussions is led by Highsnobiety Editorial Director Jian DeLeon in a panel titled Better Living Through Advertising. DeLeon connects with a new generation of artists, directors, and thought leaders to discuss why uncentering whiteness in the advertising industry and focusing on equality instead is important as ever.

We speak with Leila Fataar, founder of Platform13, about why "cultural marketing" is really just "marketing,” and Adeshola Makinde, a Chicago-based artist turning billboards and advertising into mission-driven social commentary. Makinde’s most recent work includes an augmented reality billboard demanding an end to police brutality. We also talk to director and visual artist Emmanuel Adjei, whose music videos blend surrealism with layered messages about oppression. Adjei’s “Shahmaran” video for Dutch-Iranian singer Sevdaliza drew international attention in 2018 and garnered dozens of accolades for its epic visuals and depictions of Black oppression.

Together they cover everything from how brands can be anti-racist, to advertising mediums like billboards becoming an artist’s tool to amplify Black voices. "Highsnobiety has produced a piece of content that’s thought-provoking, challenging, and timely. The global creative marketing industry needs to see this,” explained Charlotte Williams, who heads up content at Canne Lions. “We’re proud to be putting it on our LIONS Live agenda and hope that from it comes progress. Looking beyond LIONS Live, we believe that our valuable partnership will open the door even wider to foster inclusivity and accessibility to a whole new generation of diverse creative talent.”

LIONS Live runs from June 22-26 and is free to register. The five-day digital experience offers over 40 hours of masterclasses and hangouts with creative industry legends, specially-commissioned films from world-class creatives, and keynote discussions, like ours, tackling some of the biggest issues facing the industry today.

So tune in to the full conversation, and check out some of the other brilliant discussions happening throughout the week below. You can also view the complete schedule here.

At Home With... Wyclef Jean

When: June 22

“Director and Creative Producer Jonathan Hyla interviews some famous faces around their creative inspirations, career paths, and outlook for 2020 and beyond. The 'At Home With…' series explores narratives around inspiration, motivations, and what it takes to be successful in the wider world of creativity.”

Quiet Storm's Trevor Robinson - The Importance of You: Why 'Self' is the Most Important Tool in Your Creativity Box

When: June 23

“Sitting in front of Graham Fink, Trevor Robinson remembers his feedback; “your portfolio is great, I just don’t see YOU in any of the work”. In a bid to fit in and play by the rules, Trevor’s personality had been side-lined. With Graham’s words ringing in his ears, he set about changing this. And it became the turning point of his career.

In this talk, Trevor will explore how to unlock your strengths, how to become more aware of who you are, and how to use this knowledge to fuel your creativity. When you can’t see the wood for the trees, how can your personality help you find the right path? When you’re struggling with uncertainty, remember this from Dr.”

Your Instagram Posts Won’t Save Lives. DO SOMETHING DAMMIT!!

When: June 23

"With the world watching the peaceful protests in support of Black lives in America, brands both big and small are raising their corporate fists in solidarity. This session will explore the systems of racial injustice that led to this moment, the role sports played in bringing the issue to the global forefront, and define what is expected of brands that raise their hand to join this fight by requiring them to be allies of action, not just in statements and ads, but in dollars and deeds. Session participants include famed civil rights attorney and activist, Ben Crump, NFL player and activist, Malcolm Jenkins, and Jabari Paul, the head of social activism at Ben & Jerrys."

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