Meet the next generation: Sid Lee's Cécile Tousignant

Tousignant participated as a juror for the Campaign US BIG awards this year.

What is your favorite app and why?

Tiktok has been my favorite app for a while now. I’m fascinated by the many ways it affects us as human beings: how it shapes our minds and the way we communicate, learn, share, feel part of a community and change the narrative.

What is your favorite social media trend right now?

My favorite social media trend is the longer format of educational carousels on Instagram. You can find them on accounts like @impact, @intersectionslenvironmentalist, @earthrise.studio, @futureearth, @adapt_____ and many others. They democratize knowledge by moving it out of the usual academic settings like universities.

What is the coolest way you’ve seen a brand reach Gen Z?

I love the i-D series What It’s Like To Be… on YouTube. The format is pretty short and simple, but it’s clear that i-D has a real interest in giving Gen Zers a voice. It gives them the opportunity to induce indepth reflections, express their particular view of the world and share their aspirations for the future. I also love it because of the message it conveys to teens, namely being yourself is the coolest and most extraordinary thing you can do.

What’s a trend you wish would stop?

Brands choosing to do a stunt instead of thinking about a long-term commitment to participate in a social movement or support a cause. We all want to create a better world, but social change takes time and dedication. 

What do you do for fun?

One of the things I enjoy these days is really simple. There’s a tiny movie theater in Montreal where I like to go, especially in the morning with a large coffee, when the place is almost empty. They show more independent films, and for someone who refuses to have a TV at home, these moments are quite magical.

What are you working on right now that you’re excited about?

A friend and I started an Instagram project this year, which is called @funk_that_ass. Every two weeks, we put together a playlist, especially of disco, funk and rap, and create a visual with a customized number. We experiment with new techniques, and since there are two of us, we can bounce ideas off each other, which powers up our creativity. 

In time, we’d like to create playlists in different languages. Music depends so much on context, so you end up learning a lot about the history of a country when you look for songs in Portuguese, Russian or Japanese.

What are some changes you want to make to the ad industry as your career develops?

After my degree in graphic design, I did a certificate in feminist studies. It’s my way of trying to get rid of my biases and deconstruct my patriarchal, colonialist and ableist socialization by theorizing about it, analyzing it and imagining alternatives. I would like to incorporate what I’ve learned into my creative process and how I express my leadership, collaborate with others and share my opinions. I think that you have to start by embodying the changes you want to see happen, and that’s what I want to bring to the ad industry. 

What are your top five tips to marketers hoping to connect to Gen Z?

1. Don’t put them all in one box: Gen Zers are incredibly creative, and though it may be tempting from the outside to lump them all into the same category so they’re easier to understand, reducing them to a stereotype is a big mistake. Focus on authenticity and celebrate each person’s uniqueness. 

2. Collaborate with them: You can see right away if an ad targeting Gen Zers has been created by someone who doesn’t understand them or doesn’t speak their language. Treat them as partners rather than as a billboard. Include them in your meetings and take their insights seriously. 

3. Create a movement: Have a bigger purpose. Gen Zers crave human connection and a sense of belonging. One example that comes to my mind are the Starface patches that we have seen a lot recently. They don’t only sell products for acne, they send a message of acceptance like “stop the war on acne” or “skincare that treats acne with kindness.” By focusing more on destigmatizing acne than what’s in the products, they created a movement everyone wanted to be a part of. 

4. Have fun with it: Don’t take yourself too seriously and have fun experimenting with playful visuals and clever lines. But be careful, use trends purposefully and don’t do something bold or big just because. Lil Nas X and his marketing team are a brilliant example to use as inspiration. 

5. Think about your biases and never stop questioning yourself. If you don’t, they will. 

Drop a meme that describes your creative style.

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