Roaring into Cannes Lions: A Sneak Peek at the Industry’s Latest and Greatest!

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is widely regarded as the most prestigious event in advertising. Every year, the festival brings together the brightest minds and brands from around the world to celebrate the best and most innovative work in the industry. As the 2023 Cannes Lions festival approaches, many are wondering what this year’s event will have in store. To get a better sense of what to expect, we spoke with leaders in adland to get their thoughts and predictions for this year’s festival, from emerging technologies like AI and AR to sustainability and purpose-driven campaigns. Here’s what they had to say.

Andreas Markdalen, Global Chief Creative Officer, frog

Amid potential recessions, geopolitical turmoil and massive layoffs across tech, this year’s Cannes Lions festival will be all about resilience. Its focus will be on sharpening our pencils, doing more with less, and using creativity as a force for positive impact. As part of our programming in the frog Cabana at Cannes Lions Festival, we’re exploring a few big bets for the future that are in-step with today’s climate of innovation and will no doubt be the themes that will dominate much of the festival. So, here are our top three trend predictions for Cannes Lions 2023:

The first is AI everything, everywhere. When everything is a remix, anything old is new again. From new forms of creativity and processes to training sets and clever applications of data –as well as new calls for ethics, attribution and inclusion. Second is the End of the World vs. End of the Month. Meeting the needs of a vulnerable planet can feel at odds with short-term business goals. Tech optimism can only take us so far while greenwashing puts a friendly face on a dire situation. It’s time for de-growth – a more conscious capitalism that inspires better consumer habits. And third the unbundled metaverse. Last year’s gimmicky metaverse narrative has run its course. Now, we see a return to the enabling tech underpinning Web3, Blockchain, Crypto, Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality – all these need to be anchored in creating experiences people actually want.

Yvonne O’Brien, Chief Marketing Officer, Zappi

With pressing topics like AI, social action, and inflation top-of-mind for marketers, Cannes will be a chance to both celebrate the industry’s best work and discuss the challenges and opportunities in our industry.

Much has been made of AI and its implications on creative industries. I’m going to Cannes to understand how AI will truly revolutionize creative effectiveness. What are its limitations and opportunities for this technology to impact truly resonant advertising, beyond being our most advanced copywriter intern.

Zappi recently found that 86% of Gen-Z consumers expect brands to take action against social issues. I hope to understand how brands are preparing for the future and minding their customers now. As we’ve learned from Bud Light recently, it’s a non-negotiable that brands read the room to understand what’s important to their customers and take a stand – and just as important, that they stick by those decisions.

Finally, I want to meet marketers that are abandoning their fears of messing up to raise the creative bar in challenging times. With mounting pressure to perform, marketers run the risk of playing it safe – often finding themselves in the “mushy middle” of the competition as a result. This is where brands go to die. Our industry needs marketers that will abandon their fears of messing up and take chances to innovate.

Rowenna Prest, Chief Strategy Officer, Joint

I think it’s fair to say that 2022-23 has been a tumultuous time: war still rages in Europe; many countries have reached a point where future generations will be poorer than those who have gone before; individual identity is becoming increasingly fluid; and to top it off the next digital revolution in the form of AI is gaining real, unregulated, momentum.

Given this, I expect a lot of submissions will be brands finding a role in somehow helping people through this time. Purpose will be high on the agenda.  And I hope it will be purpose in the purest sense of the word – a brand’s core reason for being and how it can credibly help rather than offer tokenistic and opportunistic stunts.  Given the context, the latter will feel seriously out of step.

Considering this culture/purpose venn diagram, areas of interest could be using AI for social good, moving it beyond media early adopters and tech bros – maybe even championing authenticity over deep fakes; supporting a potential Ukrainian counter-offensive in even a small way; helping Gen Z navigate their increasingly unsettled and shifting formative years.

Dan Clays, CEO, Omnicom Media Group UK

Building on last year at Cannes, brands creatively supporting causes to drive important societal change will hopefully continue to be recognised, and there are some standout examples like Channel 4’s work, Long Walk Home.

Engaging underrepresented diverse communities as a path to growth should feature – especially work achieving customer expansion and celebrating inclusion in tandem, and Diageo and Baileys have led the way here.

In terms of breakthrough technology and platforms, we can expect to see gaming spaces come to life as an effective and fertile media channel to reach a broader audience demographic and also the creative use of retail media. Brands have so many opportunities to use this inventory in partnerships and creative expressions to reach attentive consumers.

And while purpose will be prevalent, we may also see a lighter, more playful tone to some of the work this year – perhaps as a kick back against the last few years of Covid.