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Black Out is a pioneering initiative by Cephas Williams in collaboration with the Cannes Lions Festival. Dedicated to reshaping the festival into a powerful platform for change. This initiative aims to amplify the network, representation, insight, and experience of Black talent within the industry. 


From highlighting the scarcity of Black talent in our inaugural year to underscoring the significance of 'purposeful proximity'—a concept coined by Cephas Williams to advocate for a deliberate approach to representation—our journey has been transformative. 


As we continue, our focus deepens on bridging the gap between individuals and the rich voices and experiences of Black people in the industry.


This is not just critical for fostering understanding and empathy but also for propelling the industry forward in a way that speaks to authentic inclusion.


By participating in Black Out, individuals have a unique opportunity to contribute to a more inclusive and diverse industry landscape. For the industry at large, supporting Black Out means investing in a future where talent is celebrated in all its diversity, driving innovation and creativity to new heights. 


Join us in this vital movement, and be a part of the change we all wish to see in the world.


"I'm not going to come to Cannes just to speak, come speak to the same leaders I can call and text. I said to myself, if I come back to Cannes, my presence needs to carry a much deeper meaning, if I come back I've got to bring other Black people with me"

Cephas Williams



Across year 1 & 2

Amplifying the Network, Representation, Insight, and Experience of Black talent across the industry


"I’m involved with Cephas because, like him, I believe in working together for a better future. The more people that are engaged in building a brighter future the greater the progress. What inspired me in his letter was the commitment to improvement from whatever position you or your organisation may be. It’s the commitment to improvement that is important”

“The truth is, no one is perfect and even I cannot promise you that I will not make mistakes along my journey. The more I tried to strive for perfection the more I realised “perfect “isn’t real. And so there is no “perfect“, only improvement." - Quoted from Cephas' Letter to Zion"

Keith Weed

Ex Unilever CMO

Non exec WPP


"The energy surrounding this trip was electric and one that renewed my confidence. It reminded me who I was, and of the stories and experiences that make me ‘me.’ It also reminded me that ‘Black’ means so many amazing things, and I contribute to it in a valuable way. Being part of this community amplified our energy, creativity, ambition, and deepened my sense of belonging throughout the week. As someone of mixed heritage, fitting in and finding real belonging is an ongoing challenge — not during this week.


Black Out highlights that access for the Black community is vital; not only to influence and shape the Cannes Lions experience, but the direction of the industry, and crucially, the future of creativity."


Alix Blankson

Black Out 2023


"Attending the Cannes Lions Festival as part of Black Out 2023 was life changing. I was becoming disillusioned with the industry I love. I didn’t think I could truly thrive as a Black man in advertising. As a result, I was considering changing careers. However, seeing people like me who were going through similar struggles re-energised my zeal and determination. Now, I’m happy and want to continue being an agent of change.


We all stood out quite a bit at the festival, but we all stood out together and that made the experience very empowering. Here we were, 50 strong, all talented, all Black, changing the narrative and racial landscape of such a prestigious festival. Now, that’s powerful."


Myles Manyonda 

Black Out 2023

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