As Cannes winds down, some marketers say want ‘less spectacle and more substance’ from festival

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The annual Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is good for more than sunburnt croissants and special parties. Since its inception, it has been the go-to place for marketers and advertisers to discuss industry issues and plan for the future—all in one jar.

But after two years of pandemic lockdowns, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, an imminent economic downturn and other social uncertainties (Greenpeace blocked the croissant with a fire truck right outside the Palais yesterday morning in a bid to strengthen the advertising industry’s ties with fossil fuel companies). and a previous Cannes Lion winner took the stage to return the award she won working on campaigns for airlines and auto companies), marketers and advertisers at this year’s convention say they should. The more answers to the big questions, the greater the certainty expected among their peers.

“I love Cannes,” said Andrea Mallard, CMO of Pinterest. “But what I noticed is that there aren’t many brands that have a clear vision, which surprised me.”

It’s worth noting that the industry hasn’t had an opportunity to come together physically in the last two years in hopes of reaching an agreement in the near future. Much of that is back this year with machinations, pageantry and shallow talk. However, the core of the festival seems to be that marketers want more and are wondering if the hype is still worth it.

And after a four-day festival in the south of France, marketers say they may go home with more questions than answers this year. especially when no one seems to agree on what the metaverse is and isn’t, or how to monetize it; Economists are unsure when, if not when, the market will bottom; And the cookie write-off schedule is more difficult. That means the market is shrouded in uncertainty, but marketers still need solutions for everything from advertising measurements to customer data. To be fair, publishers appear to be in a similar position.

“We come back, there is also an issue, there are still some uncertainties. How are you looking forward to 2023?” asked Khurram Malik, Head of Advertising Business Marketing at Spotify. “It’s a sense of humility to see what your peers are thinking instead of coming at everyone and thinking all the answers are, I know what’s going to happen next year.”

Malik said he went to this year’s Cannes with more pragmatism and deliberately sparked many discussions with marketers about measurement as digital audio development continues to accelerate and access to data becomes more important.

But what’s been called sneaky detox, Mallard says, may actually be toothless. “People spent money. people have great things. Fancy people come to people to do fancy things. I don’t want to be so critical. But I want us to talk,” she said.

It’s not that there aren’t any talks going on. At the Palace and on the Beaches, this year’s hot topics touched on things like sustainability, Web 3, brand purpose and diversity. But these conversations, which tend to be superficial, come at a time when marketers have had to break their playbooks and start over. The work of recent years has made the superficiality of the conversation all the more obvious and trivial.

For an industry that doesn’t have much humility, Cannes has been a lot more humble this year, having for the past two years been telling marketers what they know — or assuring themselves they know — much humbler, Lenny Stern, co- Founder of the advertising agency SS+K and Co-President of the US advertising agency M&C Saatchi. “People are like, I’m not sure. I thought I’d put all the chips here [now] I have to distribute it,” he said.

Marketers say that these last few festivals, with all the talk and initiatives that have taken place about the Metaverse, have increased doubts about the virtual world. And this is in addition to exploring new ways to use data in light of privacy initiatives, ranging from diversifying media spending to keeping pace with rapidly changing consumer habits.

“People are scared because it’s vague and people don’t know yet. But that’s exactly when you should speak up,” said Mallard of Pinterest. “What are the dangers for brands, creators [and] We are all excited to learn more about humanity through some of these technologies. Less spectacle and more substance from people. ,

Still, it’s worth noting for some in the industry that ten years ago there weren’t any talks about the future of technology, things like DE&I and channel diversification. “People focus on that. Now the question is, are we making progress?” Stern said.

As this year’s event wraps up, Spotify scraps its stage, attendees pack up for flights home and the rain cools the croissant, it looks like eyes are already on Cannes 2023, where the industry is expecting less talk and more action can.

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