Sea Changes at Cannes

June 27, 2018

Having just returned from absorbing the sights, sounds and creative inspiration at The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, I couldn’t be prouder of our agency’s showing. But while the award wins are an important and even thrilling aspect of Cannes, so is having a front row seat to the trends and shifts shaping our industry and the larger marketing ecosystem. I was there with our delegation to take it all in and bring back learnings for our clients and teams on the most recent thinking grabbing headlines at the festival.

In true Cannes fashion, we took a creative approach to sharing our favorite insights, and their impact on brands, by producing daily animated video recaps. In each one-minute video we sought to provide a better understanding of the moments that stood out to us, and I’ve included some of my thoughts on why these insights resonated so much with me personally.

1. Storytelling Finds Its Voice:
A marked difference between this festival and its 2017 predecessor was how much voice and its impact on the marketing landscape was discussed and debated. And for good reason: 20 percent of adults in the U.S. own a smart speaker, with adoption expected to grow by nearly 50 percent before the end of the year. I’m intrigued by where this is going to take us.

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2. Artificial Intelligence Leads to Authentic Creativity:
The most prevalent theme this year at Cannes was technology’s impact on the creative process and brand storytelling. What was most interesting to me was AI and machine learning and how technology will inevitably extinguish or spark creative expression, both impacting the job market and our collective ability to collaborate and explore creative impulses. As proof of concept, Deloitte Digital recently tested an AI-written creative brief that yielded 57 percent more ideas than the one written by its human counterpart. However, even when presented with such compelling evidence, I still want to believe that as humans we bring insights based on emotions that our AI-enabled machines can’t.

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3. Trust Your Instincts:
“To thine own self be true,” was the theme of a presentation by Apple retail SVP, Angela Jean Ahrendts, and a sentiment echoed throughout many other sessions. A phrase originally coined by Shakespeare, Angela repurposed it to frame the notion that the greatest creative minds must trust their intuition and instincts in order to unleash creativity within themselves, and inspire it in those around them. From Queen Latifah to Conan O’Brien and Shaq, festival speakers and sessions took a deep dive into why trusting your process and finding your unique voice lead to the best results.

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4. Embrace the Irrational:
As the title might imply, sea changes often require “irrational” thinking. In other words, don’t ignore ideas that might at first seem preposterous, insane and unsound. They help us innovate. Nearly all of the ideas that brought home gold at Cannes this year required incredible leaps of faith by both the clients, their companies and the agencies involved. Perhaps it is what led to work that focused on shattering stereotypes, breaking down long-standing taboos, and redefining the role of gender, sexuality and femininity.

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5. Don’t Talk About It, Be About It:
Purpose-driven work, as it always is, was ever present at Cannes. The Festival featured several sessions on the importance of being a good corporate citizen and living your company’s purpose. Related, building a diverse workforce in both ethnicity and thought, eliminating unconscious biases and what it takes to achieve true gender parity were all hot topics at the festival. I was happy to see the conversation continue and hope with each passing day that the conversation shifts as change is realized.

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These trends are just the beginning of all that we learned at Cannes. We’ll be sharing a look at additional trends we spotted during our post-Cannes webinar on Tuesday, July 12. Care to join? Sign up here. I know all our creatives would value your participation.

At Ketchum for 18 years, Mindy is the agency’s Chief Communications Officer. With experience in both agency and corporate environments, Mindy is passionate about all aspects of communications. In her free time, she can be found exploring the latest cultural event, walking in New York City or traveling to a new destination – usually with a camera in hand to capture the moment.

Connect with her on LinkedIn.