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Open Mic Cannes Lions Marketing

The future of advertising takes center stage at Cannes Lions - here are 5 reasons why

By Anna Bager, President & CEO



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June 14, 2024 | 6 min read

Anna Bager, president & CEO, OAAA, shares how Cannes Lions has evolved into a vital marketplace for networking, innovation, and collaboration, offering invaluable insights into the latest trends and technologies in advertising.

In just a few days, the global advertising community will gather on the Côte d'Azur for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. For over 70 years, it has been a pivotal event for every part of the ad landscape—media owners, brand marketers, advertising agencies, tech providers, and industry associations. It’s where the best creative work across mediums and categories is celebrated, where deals are made, and where creators, creatives, and chief executives converge to propel the industry forward.

At first blush, the happenings at the Cannes Lions may seem disconnected from the day-to-day for many in our industry. However, Cannes has evolved into a marketplace for networking, innovation, and collaboration. It’s a place to hear new ideas, gain invaluable insights, and understand how cutting-edge marketing technology is helping us all better reach the modern consumer to drive commerce and action.

Here are five reasons why all organizations should pay heed to the happenings at Cannes and even consider investing in and attending the festival in the future, especially for those of us in the industry focused on in-real-life experiences and physical activations and touchpoints. And for those on-site, make sure you don’t miss the bigger picture, and certainly not the big screen.

1. Crucial and inspiring conversations

The magic of Cannes Lions extends to the critical conversations it fosters. The festival offers a global platform for innovative thinking as the advertising landscape continues to evolve. Many will argue that advertising has never been at a more transformational place than it is right now. There’s plenty of threats but even more opportunities.

There’s no doubt that this year we’ll hear executives dissect how they are tackling the latest trends and issues around artificial intelligence (AI), retail media, connected TV (CTV), creator economy, and more, as well as ongoing challenges around brand building and business growth. 

Cannes also brings together a myriad of speakers from outside the industry who inspire attendees to think outside the box and apply creative strategies from different disciplines to their own work. Even the celebrities that take the Cannes stage provide valuable lessons on brand building, influence, audience engagement, and storytelling. According to Cannes Lions, this year more than 13,000 attendees from over 100 countries are expected to converge at the festival.

2. Connections that lead to ROI

Dealmaking is a significant aspect of Cannes Lions, as many participants capitalize on the high concentration of industry leaders that come together from across the globe. 

According to Cannes Lions, last year more than 350 brands and 500 agencies attended the festival, with 57% of delegates holding senior roles. Numerous events and dinners are hosted by brands, agencies, and media companies, providing intimate settings for dealmaking where executives can forge new relationships away from the larger crowds of the festival.

 These connections and more raw conversations happening on the sidelines of the festival typically foster the best ROI for potential partnerships and collaborations. In fact, in conversations with agency leaders, many cite Cannes as their number one driver for new business, while some marketers utilize the festival to scope out future agency partners. The economic impact of Cannes can not be overstated.

3. Creativity, in all forms, on display

Creativity is the lifeblood of advertising and Cannes Lions is its beating heart. Cannes celebrates the work that can cut through the clutter, captivate audiences, and drive meaningful engagement. The work that is able to challenge conventional thinking and set new benchmarks for impactful advertising typically reigns supreme.

To view the work that has been shortlisted, insiders know that the basement of the Palais is the place to go as it provides an all-encompassing view of the work from the world’s most creative brands and agencies. It’s the ultimate place to get inspired, and not to mention, run into creatives observing each piece of work as if it was art displayed at The Met.

Outside the Palais, creativity also abounds – and all in the form of out of home (OOH) media. Everything about Cannes Lions centers around OOH. From eye-catching billboards and massive digital screens on the Palais to immersive street installations down the Croisette and around every major hotel, OOH takes center stage at Cannes. Everywhere you turn, you see outstanding physical executions, reminding everyone of the medium's unparalleled power and underscoring the critical role of OOH advertising in the industry.

4. What you can’t ignore

While every year Cannes Lions will debate the pros and cons of new innovations and technologies entering our industry, the tried and true strategies that have propelled brand growth through the years, like OOH, will continue to be validated at the festival. There’s no denying it: OOH is the thread that ties many of today’s newest innovations together, playing an important role as a connector between other channels. 

Together, they create cohesive and dynamic consumer experiences that leverage digital and physical touchpoints to enhance engagement, drive action, and increase campaign effectiveness. If OOH is not in your media mix, let’s rethink that.

5. At the center of culture

This year is set to be a landmark year for the advertising industry, driven by the convergence of global elections and the Paris Olympics. With 50% of the global population voting this year, the surge in political advertising will offer unprecedented opportunities for brands to influence and capture the public's attention.

Concurrently, the Paris Olympics will provide a global platform for advertisers to connect with diverse audiences through innovative and impactful campaigns. This unique combination of events heightens the importance of Cannes Lions, where industry leaders will gather to exchange insights and strategies. Adding to the excitement, the Olympic torch will pass through during Cannes Lions, symbolizing the unity and global reach of both the Olympics and the advertising world.

Cannes is not just an awards show or just another advertising event; it's a celebration of the creativity and innovation that drives the industry forward. It's the epicenter where partnerships ignite and collaborations are set in motion. At the heart, it is a necessary platform for recognizing creative excellence, inspiring creativity, and showcasing the transformative power of advertising, most especially OOH.

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