Cannes ’24: D’Ott-fuelled jolly or epicentre of creativity?

cannes 2Another year, another Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has drawn to a close. Awards-wise, WPP regained the title of creative company of the year, with its agencies scooping a total of 160 Lions, including a titanium, six grand prix, 27 golds, 43 silvers and 83 bronzes, while Ogilvy won network of the year, Coca-Cola was named brand of the year and Unilever was marketer of the year.

For the cynics, Cannes has always been seen as one big irrelevant Domaines Ott-fuelled jolly. But there is little doubt that, aside from the parties and the boozing, the event is chockablock with networking and learning opportunities, and, according to Procter & Gamble global design officer Phil Duncan at least, “Cannes Lions is the epicentre for the world’s best creativity”.

But what do this year’s attendeeds think they got out of spending a week on the Côte d’Azur. Decision Marketing investigates…

jason MegsonJason Megson, SVP, Sparks International

What’s your biggest learning from Cannes Lions 2024?
Sifting through all the insights and ideas from Cannes Lions 2024 is a mammoth task. The inspiration following the event is incredible, but the biggest learning to retain when we leave the sunshine behind is: technology is here to support human creativity, not to constrain it or make it obsolete.

What’s been the biggest turn on?
When so many creatives gather in one place, once a year, it’s an excellent opportunity to connect, meet with those from different backgrounds, and extricate ourselves from our bubble. And this year I found an excellent, conscious focus on diversity of thought and talent – especially at the Inkwell Beach, and with the introduction of the Equity, Representation and Accessibility (ERA) Programme.

What’s been the biggest turn off?
It’s great to have consistent themes being played out across the festival, but when you hear the same thing over and over again it’s easy to switch off. Once again it comes back to no one wanting to be in an echo chamber – let’s hear those provocative ideas.

Can you share the best work you saw?
No-one did that better than Orange, with its ad ‘WoMen’s Football’ taking home the Grand Prix in the Cannes Lions for Sport category. Putting the gender bias at the forefront of the ad, it certainly seems like a turning point for sports marketing.

And how would you describe it in three words?
This year’s event has been diverse, optimistic and authentic. Here’s to carrying on this momentum.

Bhavesh UnadkatBhavesh Unadkat, VP Brand, Marketing and Content, frog, part of Capgemini Invent

What’s your biggest learning from Cannes Lions 2024?
As I expected there’s been a lot of talk and interesting showcases about AI.

It has also been great to see that there are so many categories now for awards that cover transformation, data, digital design and tech – making Cannes more accessible to the entire industry. I’ve seen that through the presence and domination of so many tech platform players this year.

What’s been the biggest turn on?
Serendipity in meeting incredible people, discovering new brands, agencies and therefore unlocking new partnerships.
And having the opportunity to experience the amazing creativity in the work.

What’s been the biggest turn off?
Not being able to be in three, four, five places at once! With so many amazing sessions and showcases running simultaneously, it was just impossible to get to see and hear everything.

Can you share the best work you saw?
Move to -15: Three million petrol cars off the road overnight; a piece of work that challenged the status quo. It scientifically proved that a massive impact to the environment could be delivered overnight by making a simple change. I enjoyed that it inspired thoughts and conversations about other businesses doing the same by looking at existing patterns and beliefs around products and services and challenging them.

Without consent – A Message from Ella: As a parent, this one hit hard. Nowadays it’s so easy to post everything on social media and get carried away celebrating your child’s successes – it was definitely an eye-opener.

Orange – La compil’ des Bleues: A brilliant campaign. Shifting perceptions around women’s football by using famous iconic men to initially trick viewers into thinking they’re watching the men’s game, then squashing assumptions and any misconceptions about the quality of the women’s game is simply a genius way to change behaviour.

And how would you describe it in three words?
Brilliant, serendipitous, connections

Tristan CavanaghTristan Cavanagh, Creative Director, 23red part of Capgemini Invent

What’s your biggest learning from Cannes Lions 2024?
There’s been much debate in the run up to Cannes about the return of humour and a focus on commerciality, so it’s refreshing to see impassioned presentations from influential figures and brands, including Mars and Mondelēz, talking about how vital representation, inclusivity and social impact are. And there’s proof too. The Unstereotype Alliance used Cannes to talk about their latest study called ‘Inclusion = Income: The Business Case for Progressive Advertising’. Strong academic evidence that work with a social impact also sells more. There are plenty of great campaigns using creativity to drive business results, but there’s work which does both as well – from WhatsApp’s ‘We Are Ayenda’ to Pedigree’s ‘Adopted’ and Orange’s ‘WoMen’s Football’.

What’s been the biggest turn on?
It’s inspiring to immerse yourself in a truly global celebration, but what I’ve enjoyed most is the Inside The jury sessions. Moderated panels with key judges talking about why they awarded those campaigns and what made them truly special. It’s a rare treat to get that perspective and I’ve absolutely loved them all.

What’s been the biggest turn off?
Cannes isn’t just about creativity. It’s also about our industry, right? And there were many debates about important issues like AI and inclusivity, but I was surprised by the lack of focus on climate change, one of the most critical challenges facing our world today.

Can you share the best work you saw?
There’s so much great stuff, but two campaigns really resonated with me for different reasons. The first is for one of the biggest brands in the world – Coca Cola with ‘Thanks for Coke-creating’. It’s such a human-centric campaign which is lovingly executed and irreverent. The other is much smaller and targeted: ‘Paper Organs’ which found a simple and elegant way to encourage organ donation in Taiwan, whilst being incredibly culturally sensitive and beautifully designed and considered.

And how would you describe it in three words?
Purpose meets profit.

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