Taking the living room to the beach at Cannes Lions: Q&A with Thomas Bremond of FreeWheel

Taking the living room to the beach at Cannes Lions

As a regular visitor to Cannes Lions, Thomas Bremond, General Manager, International, at FreeWheel, sees the event not only as an important date in the calendar for the creative and marketing industries, but also as a milestone for the Comcast-owned advertising management company. Ahead of the event, Thomas discusses what he is most looking forward to at Cannes in 2018.

FreeWheel will be in Cannes again this year. What are you expecting from 2018?

The past 12 months have been intense for the advertising industry: some long-running companies in the video space have been acquired or gone out of business, and agencies have raised the bar in term of the quality of inventory they are willing to buy.

Cannes will be an opportunity for everyone to think back on the path we have walked since last year, and look forward to what will happen next.

I also think there will be a lot of talk around addressable TV and the role of agencies in the battle for attention. Premium video has always been a fantastic vehicle for showcasing creativity and storytelling, which is at the core of Cannes. As TV and premium video continues to evolve, I’m sure there will be many discussions about distribution, the application of data and enhanced transaction models.

What do you think makes Cannes Lions such a unique event?

The beauty of Cannes is that it attracts such a diverse range of people. You get a real mix in terms of regions, industry sectors, and audiences. This not only enables all stakeholders in the ecosystem to come together, but it also creates some really interesting debates and fresh perspectives on the industry.

What does Cannes mean to FreeWheel?

This is our third year at Cannes, and we’re hoping it will be bigger and better than ever. I see it as a great barometer for how our company has evolved. In the first year we had just acquired StickyADs.tv, last year we launched the FreeWheel Council (FWC) in Europe, and 2018 will see our whole business under one FreeWheel banner for the first time.

This year, we want our beach to be a forum for talented professionals. We have invited a wide range of industry leaders to speak, including Jakob Nielsen, CEO of Finecast and Fox’s Joe Marchese. Also providing his insights will be Horizon Media CEO Bill Koenigsberg, who will be chatting to FreeWheel’s own Executive Vice President Dave Clark.

What are you looking forward to about this year’s event?

We will be hosting two full mornings of content, providing a bigger platform for the many talented thought leaders we work with all year long. On Wednesday morning, I will be presenting a session called “A Cross Industry View of the New Living Room”, which is an exciting prospect.

If we think of the living room as where people traditionally watch TV content, we will be discussing how a ‘new’ living room is evolving that has no borders, because of the sheer diversity in how people watch and how content is distributed.

What should we be looking out for?

On Tuesday we will be holding a leadership forum “The Future of Television”, looking at how the industry must evolve. Panellists from Fox, Nissan, and Wavemaker will explore the future of storytelling, followed by a discussion including Viacom and Dentsu on the next generation of platforms.

As part of our Wednesday session there will be a discussion on how publishers and operators are embracing new TV models, including Canal+, Roku, MTG, and Molotov.tv. This is likely to look at the importance of putting quality content first, which I think will be a recurring theme at Cannes this year.

We will also look at how advertisers and agencies need to adapt to this new TV and video ecosystem. A key question for the Cannes audience will be – how do brands stay relevant in a world of ‘always on’ media? – which we hope to address.

Will you have anything new to announce in 2018?

We’ll be bringing together members of the FWC from both sides of the Atlantic for the first time to provide their views on the global living room, in a discussion including FWC and FWCE members and the European Broadcaster Exchange. In a session that will discuss global similarities and differences, there will also be a focus on alliances, and it will be inspiring to see TV companies continue the trend of collaboration and initiatives to drive scale and efficiency.

The FWC will also be teasing their upcoming outputs – Demystifying Premium and A Buyer’s Guide to the New Living Room – during the event. We will be exploring the key elements of video inventory that should be non-negotiable for marketers, as well as providing agencies with a guide on how to take full advantage of the largest screen.

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