Missed out on Cannes? We have you covered! 

June 28, 2024

The World Media Group brought a taste of the riviera to London this week, for all those who were glued to LinkedIn last week, watching enviously as their colleagues networked in Cannes. Our CEO, Jamie Credland, invited Alex Delamain, SVP, Global Partners & Client Experience, Economist Impact, Joe Petyan, Global Client Leader, WPP and Victoria Pawsey, Media Partnerships Director, Boston Consulting Group, to share their key takeouts from this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Credland began by asking the panel for their overriding impression from this year’s event. ForVictoria Pawsey, it was her first trip to Cannes. “It’s an event that I’ve lusted after for about 10 years,” she said, “and it was everything that I expected it to be.” She highlighted the overwhelming variety of activities – interesting panels, media partner events and meetings – and how spread out everything is, resulting in a constant sense of FOMO.

Cementing client relationships 

Joe Petyan is a Cannes veteran. He emphasised how important the annual trip is to maintaining client relationships and staying relevant by engaging with the work. He told the story of how one year, he’d apologised to his boss for an expense claim for a client lunch. His boss replied, “Well, if you weren’t taking them, somebody else would be.” That’s one part of why he returns to Cannes each year – if he’s not forging those relationships with clients, someone else will be.

One difference Petyan observes in recent years is the shift from a creative-centric event to one where tech companies also have a significant presence, along with a broader mix of attendees including clients and brand owners, rather than being dominated by agencies.

Alex Delamain, another seasoned Cannes attendee, agrees. She emphasised the value of meeting clients in a less formal, relaxed environment to build deeper relationships and gain insights into their business. She also stressed the importance of planning pre-scheduled client meetings while leaving enough time for serendipitous encounters. “It is essential to have those meetings booked with your clients. For me, it’s an invaluable opportunity to bring EMEA CMOs and global CMOs together. Getting them around the table and having a collective conversation is immensely beneficial.”

Trends and themes

Credland went on to ask the panel what themes stood out for them this year. Pawsey flagged Women in Sports as a significant theme, with many sessions focussing on this, along with broader diversity issues. Delamain mentioned that sustainability was a key focus in sessions at Goals House and at the Palais. She highlighted Laura Maness, Global CEO at Grey, who shared valuable insights demonstrating that sustainability is an active driver of growth, reinforcing this with best practices to help marketers effectively integrate sustainability into their strategies.

For Petyan, it was the notable shift towards using humour in a different way that stood out, a refreshing theme in creative after other more ‘worthy’ trends such as of purpose-driven marketing. The panellists also noted a renewed focus on B2B, highlighted by the YouTube premiere of ‘Everybody’s Business’, a film about the history of B2B advertising, and a reminder that the first ever Cannes Lion was for a B2B campaign.

The big moments

AI and its impact on publishing was a hot topic, with discussions about potential licensing challenges and practical applications, such as increased personalisation in marketing campaigns. The consensus from the panel was AI is not going away, so marketers need to learn how to navigate it and use it to their advantage.

Elon Musk’s highly anticipated interview by WPP CEO Mark Read unsurprisingly made headlines because of Musk’s controversial views on advertising and marketers. The conversation focussed on the issue of censorship versus freedom of speech and what that means for advertisers/brands on the Twitter/X platform.

The creative work 

Petyan expressed disappointment that it seemed not as many attendees spent time looking at the creative work in the Palais or experiencing the presentations and discussions, largely because of the expense. He highlighted the importance of showcasing creative work as a way to inspire and educate both current and future industry professionals. That said, there are a number of initiatives intended to make Cannes more accessible to young creatives, including reduced-price passes and open sessions at the Palais for non-pass holders.

ROI and justification 

For anyone hoping to persuade their boss that they need to go to Cannes next year, the panellists discussed the value of the event and how they demonstrate the return on investment to their respective businesses. ROI can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, from leveraging face-to-face meetings, to gaining competitive insights (often helped by the relaxed environment and the flowing rosé!) and aligning with industry trends.

The panel all agreed that the Cannes Lions Festival continues to be the number one industry event for networking, inspiration and staying ahead of industry trends. While the focus has shifted over the years, the core values of creativity and relationship-building are still very much at the heart of Cannes.

Thank you to our partner, Brand Metrics, for sponsoring our post-Cannes event. Building on their own insights from Cannes, they have written an interesting thought piece that explores the growing conversation around Connected TV, with a nod to the importance of measuring it. You can read more about that here.