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Rebuilding trust & bridging C-suite gaps: will agencies be attending Cannes Lions 2023?

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By Laura Blackwell | Content Executive

June 1, 2023 | 9 min read

Is there any cultural capital for marketers attending Cannes Lions in today’s economic (and actual) climate? Seven industry leaders told The Drum their plans, and how they’re changing their outlook on this year’s festival.

'Cannes' sign surrounded by palm trees and terracotta buildings

Cannes Lions 2023: a beacon of hope? / Jannis Lucas

Cannes Lions season is upon us, but given last year’s climate protests and ongoing industry-wide budget squeezes, for some, the week-long event has been reduced to a question mark.

When asked about their plans to attend or not attend, responses from members of The Drum Network were a mixed bag: for B2B agencies, the decision to show up is obvious following the festival’s recently launched B2B category in 2022, while others feel confident in their ability to make an impact from afar.

Luke Bristow, chief operating officer, Kairos Media Group: At Kairos, we recognize the importance of attending Cannes Lions, even in the face of industry-wide budget constraints and economic challenges. That's why we've chosen to attend this year with a skeleton team focused on networking. But also because we also have been nominated alongside our client Heinz and want to celebrate not only them but our team that created this work.

“Despite our scaled-back presence, we see valuable opportunities ahead. By identifying important events aligning with our goals and prioritizing attendance, we're confident we can make meaningful connections and build relationships with existing and potential clients.

“In a complex and challenging economic market, it's more important than ever to be strategic and proactive in our approach. By following up diligently post-event and nurturing the relationships we establish, we can maximize the value of our Cannes Lions experience and navigate industry challenges with both prudence and ambition.”

Amy Zwirn, commercial director, Influencer: “Festivals still hold huge cultural capital for marketers, and Cannes Lions still leads the way, setting the following 12 months’ agenda for the global creative network and showcasing the very best in content, strategy, and creative minds.

“Cannes offers marketers unparalleled opportunities to connect with peers and clients from across the globe, offering a global platform for a diversity of perspectives and idea exchange – which is so important within the advertising industry. Most importantly, they’re able to do this face to face, something which became all the more important in a post-pandemic world.

“This year, Influencer is seizing the opportunity to unite clients and prospective clients from all over the globe with global creators. We’re hosting a number of highly curated and targeted events that will allow attendees to connect, celebrate the very best in creativity, and discuss important global issues impacting our industry today.”

Chris Bagnall, chief executive officer & founder, Transmission: As a B2B focussed agency and with Cannes Lions only recently launching their dedicated B2B awards categories in 2022, the opportunity for us to celebrate all that is great around marketing creativity and effectiveness is too good for Transmission to not be in attendance this year.

“We will use the event as an opportunity for us to host important clients from around the world, creating a specially curated, week-long agenda dedicated to B2B. We are teaming up with event sponsors and partners, to create unique content, host panels, discussion groups and networking for all, with the goal of raising the profile of B2B marketing excellence.

“This year, our focus has changed from last as we unveil the findings of our global research study looking into the brand value gap that exists between corporate chief marketing officers (CMOs) and their chief financial officer (CFO) counterparts.

“We will be providing marketing teams with the crucial evidence they need to help support their organizations’ defense of marketing budgets by giving them evidence that proving spending on brand health has a demonstrable impact on overall business health.”

Maira Genovese, founder and president, MG Empower: There’s no doubt agencies have been feeling the ‘economic pinch’ this year, but it’s for this exact reason it is so important to prioritize building genuine relationships that help to build much-needed trust with brands.

“This is why we’ve chosen to attend and exhibit at this year’s festival; to leverage the power of IRL connections and, through our cabana, physically translate the ways we see the future of marketing.

“One of the main ways we see this happening is through co-creation. We’re so confident about it that we’ve dedicated our entire space in Cannes to the theme. From TL events to co-creation experiences, to the artwork on the wall, we can’t wait to lead this conversation and really demonstrate how impactful and powerful integrated marketing can be.”

Julie Reid, strategy director, Hallam: While we’ve not attended Cannes Lions before, it's a big moment in the industry’s calendar and will always attract attention and conversations about the most pressing issues of the day. But there are still ways that agencies can take part in those conversations without being there.

“We can ensure we’re discussing the implications of an advertising campaign with our clients at the briefing stage, looking at how we can prioritize the products and services that have a positive impact on society.

“We can join organizations like Ad Net Zero and Purpose Disruptors that are pushing for the industry to be more sustainable and conscious about our role in what the future looks like, and we can seek to make our own agencies as sustainable as possible; reducing our carbon footprint, producing creative work in a carbon neutral way, and putting policies in place that benefit employees, suppliers, local communities and the planet."

Gill Browne, sustainability and social impact practice lead, Propeller Group: “At Propeller, we see huge value in joining the industry’s de facto annual assembly. However, with adland’s leadership flying en masse to the Riviera, its environmental footprint is significant.

"The message for the planet isn’t ‘don’t come to Cannes’. Cannes Lions is a crystallizing moment that gives us space and time to reflect, which is why it’s a hotspot for industry conversations. Greenpeace last year asked advertisers not to boycott Cannes but to boycott fossil fuel companies, and to use their influence for good.

"It chose Cannes precisely because it drives conversations and sets trends. However, the industry needs to ensure that it isn’t recycling the same old discussions year after year. Last year’s protests were a signal that the current conversation, and subsequent action, isn't maturing fast enough. We need to take that seriously and use Cannes to create not just consensus around change, but momentum.”

Christie Clark, marketing manager, Found: I’m heading to the festival as this year’s Alumni Tutor for the Cannes Lions School’s Brand Marketers Academy. 30 young marketers from around the world are going to take part in this year’s specialist academy and, I have to be honest, spending the week nurturing the talent of this cohort of future chief marketing officers (CMOs) is probably going to be the professional highlight of my year.

“The festival is an invaluable source of creative inspiration and I cannot wait to introduce these young marketers to the festival in bespoke sessions with leading creatives and CMOs.

“As a Young Lion myself, and an attendee of last year’s academy, I know what to expect from both the festival and the course and I could not be more excited. To slightly amend my favorite line from Parks and Recreation: ‘it’s the best week of the year!’”

Will we see you in Cannes? Meet up with The Drum team, or follow along with our editorial coverage here.

Agencies Agency Culture Business Leadership

Content created with:

Kairos Group

Led by experts with more than 100+ years of gaming and media industry knowledge, Kairos Group comprises multiple entities including Kairos Media, Kyma Media and Horizon Union.

Find out more

Influencer

We are the originators of influencer marketing.

Influencer is an agency built at the intersection of creativity, data, and technology with a unique ‘people power & platform power’ approach.

From big brand launches to shifting perceptions and from riding fast trends to driving footfall, Influencer builds ideas with impact to deliver outcomes that drive your business forward via an unmatched client experience.

Campaigns are underpinned by Influencer’s game-changing proprietary technologies, which are supercharged by official partnerships and data integrations with the world’s leading social platforms for real-time and accurate reporting. Influencer is an Official Global Marketing Partner of both TikTok and Meta.

We believe the more tangible, scaled outcomes that creators produce drive impact beyond just likes and impressions. Influencer is championing the ‘True Human Influence’ movement; on a mission for creator campaigns to be judged in the same way as other media activations - underpinned by measurement partners such as ThisThat, Neilsen, and Relative Insight.

Founded by OG YouTube creator Caspar Lee & entrepreneur Ben Jeffries, Influencer has been helping brands navigate the ever-evolving influencer marketing landscape since 2015. In that time they have developed valuable knowledge, experience, and technology that have enabled them to deliver thousands of campaigns, for hundreds of brands in markets across the world. Today, Influencer has a team of 120+ of the best talent in the industry, working across Europe, North America, and the Middle East. From Google to Coca-Cola, from Amazon to Microsoft, and from TikTok to Meta - they work with companies, brands, and agencies across every vertical, building meaningful relationships between brands, creators, and their audiences.

For more information visit influencer.com or email contact@influencer.com.

Find out more

Transmission

Transmission is the world’s largest independent global B2B marketing agency.

Their award-winning full-service offering enables their teams to work seamlessly across the entire sales and marketing function, crafting programs that drive business performance.

By combining agility, data-driven intelligence, innovation, and human creativity, they create powerful, behaviour-changing growth marketing that moves the needle and leaves a lasting impression.

And with 12 offices in 8 countries worldwide, they have the global coverage to help you drive the now and define the next for your B2B marketing anywhere in the world.

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MG Empower

We are a fully integrated marketing powerhouse offering a range of best-in-class marketing services, from community-building and brand co-creation to amplification and full awareness campaigns, to world-class brands, talents and innovators.

Across five divisions, we provide our clients with cutting-edge influencer marketing, talent management, in-house design and experiential production, a full-service digital performance and media agency, and a proprietary platform for generating data-driven insights and advanced analytics that we use to propel our winning campaigns #AboveAndBeyond.

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Hallam

We’re a multi-award winning full-service digital agency based in the UK, and a trusted partner to some of the world’s biggest national and international brands.

Putting digital at the heart of our clients’ future success, we create innovative strategies that deliver significant growth and exceptional results through our integrated web design and development, SEO, PPC, CRO, Social Media and PR services.

We strive to innovate and share expertise and for the second year have organised the Midlands’ biggest digital conference - Nottingham Digital Summit. This event brings together industry experts from the likes of Google, Virgin Media, Jaguar Land Rover and Experian to inspire over 700 local business people with the latest digital trends to grow their companies. What’s more, all proceeds go to support The Nottingham Samaritans.

Our services

As a full-service agency we’re able to use our combined expertise in a range of digital marketing specialisms to create multi-layered campaigns and strategies:

- Our high-impact technical SEO campaigns deliver results that improve client visibility in search engine results pages;

- We create award-winning websites – technically sound, visually stunning, with seamless user experiences;

- Taking paid advertising to the next level, our data-driven insights and highly crafted, bespoke in-house tools deliver business-changing results;

- Tailored PR campaigns have raised clients’ brand awareness and secured top coverage across the digital landscape;

- We have a proven strategy using testing tools and monitoring clients’ online visitors, establishing the greatest impact on CRO and delivering permanent performance improvements;

- Harnessing the true power of social media we build creative, innovative campaigns that truly create a digital buzz.

Bringing together industry-leading expertise, we employ 65 people across core delivery teams from our Nottingham base.

Our clients

We partner with international organisations such as Speedo, The United Nations, Esso, Saint Gobain and Suzuki as well trusted UK brands such as Raleigh, Travis Perkins, The BBC, Jägermeister, TTS Group and Castle Rock Brewery. We consistently deliver transformational results; on average our clients see a 69% rise in organic traffic, 54% increase in ecommerce revenue, and a 65% increase in lead generation.

- Raleigh Bikes’ new website delivered improved conversion rates with a 675% increase in ecommerce revenue year on year, and a 370% increase in their Black Friday sales attributed to our Digital PR campaign;

- We helped Speedo deliver brand consistency across national and international digital channels, streamlining their online user experience;

- Our social media strategy for the United Nations helped them reach more than 15 million users worldwide;

- A bespoke website for Virtual Runner increased their average spend per transaction by 80% with a 57% increase in subscriptions since it’s launch.

“Hallam have delivered above and beyond what we expected, and are an absolute joy to work with.” ~Rikke Hennum, Campaign Coordinator, United Nations Free & Equal Campaign

Our people

Developing our staff, both personally and professionally, is one of our business objectives. We invest heavily in staff training and development, with wellbeing initiatives that include weekly yoga sessions, unlimited home working and mental health training.

We invest a combined 900 hours per month (2 days per employee) on a protected learning time initiative with everyone receiving an annual training budget of £2,000 to use on courses of their choice.

Our awards

We’re incredibly proud of our track record. Our work has been recognised across numerous industry-renowned awards with five trophies at The Drum Recommended Agency Awards, including the Grand Prix - award for overall best digital agency.

Our awards and nominations span all areas of our expertise. It’s just one of the things that pushes us to stay ahead of the curve for our clients and it’s a great feeling when that work gets noticed. Check out a selection of them:

The Drum Recommended Digital Agency Awards

- Grand Prix - Agency of the Year (40-99 Staff) Winner

- Search

- Usability

- Client Service

- Full Digital Service

Google Premier Partner Awards

- 2019 EMEA Winner of the Growing Business Online Award

- 2018 finalists in Shopping Innovation and Display Innovation

DADI Awards

- finalist

UK Digital Experience Awards

- Best Online User Experience B2C - Silver

- Best Agency - Winner

- Shortlisted for three awards in 2019

European Search Awards

- Best Large SEO Agency - Finalist

- Best Large PPC Agency - Finalist

- Shortlisted in five awards in...

Find out more

Propeller Group

Propeller delivers a joined-up approach to PR, Content and Business Development.

Our clients all have stories to tell.

Our role is to shape and put those stories in front of the right people, and we do.

The work we do builds credibility and awareness for our clients and enhances their positioning for action and growth.

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Found.

WE ARE FOUND.​

WE HELP BRANDS GET FOUND ONLINE.​

We’re the digital performance experts who devise and deliver more opportunities for brands to grow online.​

As a dedicated team of digital marketing experts (with specialisms in paid media, SEO, CRO, digital PR, data science, and growth consultancy), we use tech automation, smart data, and human brilliance, to help B2C brands (like PUMA, Fender, Unilever, Secret Sales, and Wowcher) and global B2B brands grow online. ​

We utilise a creative, methodical, and data-driven approach. Our team find untapped and sustainable online growth opportunities for brands of all sizes and have been delivering insanely great digital marketing results for the last 12 years.

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