Collective creativity powers global solutions

Stacy-Ann Effs from our Hearts & Science U.S. team attended the 2023 Cannes Lions International Festival, the “Home of Creativity,” to experience firsthand the inspiring work submitted.

From networking and exploring Cannes’ beaches to sharing in the excitement of award winners, Stacy-Ann had a jampacked adventure. She shouts out to two notable award winners: Dove for their “Turn Your Back” campaign and Skittles for their clever and slightly hilarious “Apologize the Rainbow.”

Over four days at the festival, Stacy-Ann saw four themes emerge. Unsurprisingly, artificial intelligence (AI) took center stage, surpassing blockchain from last year as the most talked about topic at Cannes.

AI dethrones blockchain

This year at Cannes, 7.3% of entries mentioned AI in their synopses compared to 3.7% last year. 

From “The Subconscious Order,” helping people decide what food to order, to Samsung’s “Unfear,” helping people on the autism spectrum be more comfortable in loud spaces, speakers noted that AI technologies are actually enabling human connection rather than hindering it.

Stacy-Ann first attended the Brand Innovators Marketing Leadership Summit, where she got to hear Raja Rajamannar (CMO, Mastercard) discuss his thoughts on AI, purposeful branding, and quantum experiential marketing. 

Omnicom and Reddit’s session later explained their ambitions to make it easier for brands to be part of the Reddit community by simple elements like correct labeling, tagging, and measuring sentiments. Levering AI is at the forefront of making this happen. And yet, Steve Huffman (CEO, Reddit) shared:

“Reddit is the most human place on the internet. We feel like anthropologists studying a city and watching it all as it works…we are along for the ride.”

Brands doing their part for DE&I

The push toward systemic equity in our unequal world continues, and it echoed throughout Cannes this year as well. Stacy-Ann attended a handful of events related to the topic. 

At one event by Inkwell Beach, panelists discussed “The Response: Are We Still Focused on the Change that DEI Could Bring?” where P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard spoke about the value of investing in diversity. He shared the following:

“Diverse groups need money for sponsorship to create programming, content, and audience creation. Investing will eventually pay out because you need to create familiarity to build meaningful brand trust with diverse audiences.”

Later in the week, Stacy-Ann attended an event with TikTok and shared:

“I was invited to the ‘Beyond the Table: TikTok Women of Color Luncheon,’ where over two dozen BIPOC women leaders in the industry encouraged and supported the progress we have been able to make.”

Stacy-Ann also visited Omnicom Cove at the Palais, where she saw Emily Graham (Chief Equity & Impact Officer, Omnicom) and panelists speak on the topic of “Dare to Deliver.”  She noted her appreciation of the Juneteenth acknowledgment abroad in their presentation and even the historical connection of France’s support of Black Americans.

Creativity for the climate

On Stacy-Ann’s fourth and final day at the festival, she spent the day as one of 22 shortlist jurors for the Cannes Young Lions. The 28 teams of young, creative professionals from around the world had arrived at Cannes after passing their local qualifying round, no small feat for each team member.

At the festival, these Young Lions received a new sustainability-focused brief, and had just 24 hours to prepare a submission and present it. There was one gold, one silver, and one bronze, but as Stacy-Ann put it, they were all winners for participating in this intense, high-stakes competition.

One notable innovation came from TBWA/Hakuhodo, a team that repurposed frequently discarded and brilliantly upcycled scallop shells to make helmets, or more aptly named, shellmets!

She also attended the independent Acceptable Ads Committee, which discussed the innovation needed in marketing for a bigger impact on sustainability. Each brief can contribute or become a circular economy, reducing overall waste and contributing to a healthier environment.

TikTok learnings from the pros

Active TikTok users make up over one-eighth of the human population, so naturally, we’d be remiss not to hear from the platform’s pros.

A fun, hands-on event at TikTik Garden at the Carlton Hotel taught attendees how to make their own TikTok with an interactive tote bag creation tutorial. They learned how to edit, add sound, caption, and add a personalized “creator touch.” 

Omnicom and TikTok later hosted an actionable talk where they shared research on the long-term brand outcomes of using creative to generate attention. During the presentation, TikTok’s Head of Creative Agency Partnerships, Krystal Watler, was asked how long a TikTok ad should be. She sagely advised:

“Your video should be as long as it is entertaining.”

As another piece of actionable advice, David Ma, a top TikTok influencer, recommends brands “level down” their production quality and have a bit of fun on the platform. “Lead with behind-the-scenes shots and end with the finished production.”

Community-first creativity

Across each of these four themes, the one thing that brings them all together is the need to tap into our creative community to help find solutions to global challenges. Sueann Tannis, a Jury President at Cannes Lions and the Senior Communications Director for the United Nations, confirmed:

“We have to join hands and hearts across the world to achieve our goals.”

To solve challenges, the 70th edition of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity truly brought together forward-thinking experts from across the world to share their insights and search for answers using everything from AI to brand building. 

While the future is uncertain, Stacy-Ann hopes she can return to the festival in 2024 to see what exciting innovations in communications abound.