Roaring Into Cannes Lions Part 2: Industry Experts Anticipate the Unforgettable

As the month of June marches on, anticipation builds among the industry’s brightest minds as they eagerly await the arrival of the Cannes Lions Festival. This renowned gathering promises to showcase the most ingenious and impactful creative endeavours of the past year. As global leaders prepare to immerse themselves in the prestigious event, they are naturally curious about the trends and themes that will shape this year’s festival. To provide valuable insights and predictions, we have engaged in conversations with a panel of industry experts who are keen to share their perspectives on what lies ahead at Cannes Lions Festival 2023. Here, we present their compelling thoughts and observations.

Nick Blenkarne, Head of Strategy, Imagination

AI, tech, brand purpose, and climate are a few themes set to dominate the Croisette conversation, the yacht chat, and the Palais parler this year… here’s my take on what these conversations will consist of this year:

AI hopes and fears

The speed at which the conversation has moved on from vague discussions about the Metaverse (a topic that dominated last year) shows how fickle the industry can be with new technologies. AI however, feels tangibly different.  A through-line for the festival this year will be ongoing discussions around some big questions:

 Are generative AI tools simply great sidekicks to help creative professionals come up with more high-quality ideas at a quicker rate, or are they a path to homogenous, predictable and ultimately dull outputs that might be perfectly optimised, but have very little humanity to them?

‘How safe really IS my job’?   We’ve all had fun playing with GPT and Midjourney, but like all AI systems, they have their limitations, and can reinforce human bias.  This underlying angst will add a lovely Black Mirror edge to discussions over rosé on the Croisette.

Purpose backfires

Virtue signalling entries have come to define what wins at Cannes, but with the storm that enveloped AB InBev – Bud Light’s recent purpose-led campaign featuring Dylan Mulvaney – there will be ongoing debate about how mass market brands should authentically demonstrate their values and take a stand, without alienating big swathes of their consumer base.

Climate urgency

With the latest IPCC report delivering a “final warning” on the climate crisis, sustainability should be well and truly at the centre of the program and conversation.  Last year saw a mix of different protests and stunts aimed at fossil fuel companies, which in the searing heat of Cannes in June, will hit particularly hard when inevitably present again this year.

Last throw of the dice for headsets?

Apple is set to unveil its hotly anticipated AR/VR headset in June – reviews of which will inevitably ripple through the festival, alongside a discussion around what use cases or killer app might come close to making the $3,000 price tag worth it. If anyone can do it, Apple can, but if they fail to create a headset with mainstream appeal, it might just not be possible.

 Louise Johnson, CEO, Fuse

This year’s agenda at Cannes will most likely cover the likes of sustainable media, diverse talent in creativity and the future of AI and Chat CPT.  All of which have and will drive fundamental changes in the creative industries. But given 2022 was a busy year for sport, we predict this festival will see a lot of campaigns drawing on the FIFA Men’s World Cup and the Women’s Euros 2022, with work being awarded in this area. Within this, we expect the men’s World Cup work will focus on the excitement of the game including fans and the passion behind the event. Whereas, the work around the Women’s Euros will generally concentrate on just the gender parity story.

While the gender parity and social purpose narratives are still so important, they shouldn’t be the only focus this year for sport, particularly women’s sport. Those who are smart should be utilising the power of the upcoming Women’s World Cup (taking place just a month after Cannes), as an opportunity to tell brand stories in a creative way that speaks openly to new audiences – ones that are more diverse, engaged and open to brand sponsor activity. Whether that’s inspiring the next generation to lead healthier lives or using technology to implement authentic long-term change.

We are hoping to see agencies and brands using this platform to talk about women’s sport as a creative storytelling and value creation opportunity – one that goes beyond the parity story and reflects the true excitement of the game.