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Connecting people and ideas is foundational to who we are and what we do. The opportunities to transform ourselves, our industry and our clients’ businesses have never been more rich.

Cannes Lions is not only about celebrating the world’s best creativity, it also about inspiring for the future. This year we explored how creative power is amplified through the brilliance of storytelling, data, technology, diversity, purpose and more.

And, Publicis Media brands, in partnership with our clients, received 107 honors with 4 Gold, 10 Silver, 20 Bronze, and 73 shortlists as either the primary or a contributing agency.

Read on for festival insights, perspectives, and predictions for the future of creativity.

Return on Inspiration: Great Work at Cannes

KATHY KLINE

Global Chief Strategy Officer, Starcom

The heart and soul of Cannes is the work itself.

In 2019, there were a staggering 30,953 Cannes submissions from 89 different countries – but less than three percent ultimately awarded medals. The medal-winning work truly represents the best of the best, and reflects the highest standards of creative excellence.

Some clear themes emerged:

New dimensions of diversity and inclusion: In years past, there has been a positive spotlight on inclusion, focusing on gender inequality and LGBTQ rights in particular. This year, we also saw brands that recognized and empowered disabled people through their products and the work. At the top of the list were IKEA THISABLES, Microsoft Changing the Game and Tommy Hilfiger’s Adaptive Collection.

Competition alongside kindness & empathy:  There was a divide between brands that chose to take pointed, direct hits on their competition versus work that really leaned into kindness, empathy, and quite simply, encouraged us to be better to one another. Burger King’s Whopper Detour and AeroMexico’s A World Without Borders were lauded for their direct hits, while Pernod’s The Time We Have Left and ANZ Bank’s Signs of Love helped us believe in a kinder, gentler world.

Finally, brands continued to make an impact on society by harnessing cultural moments. Nike’s Dream Crazier work embodies this from a brand point of view, and there was also a distinct body of work from the journalism community that took a stand on the importance of a free press at key cultural moments. An-Nahar’s The Blank Issue, the Columbia Journalism Review’s Fake News Stand and The New York Times’ The Truth is Worth It offered distinct viewpoints on the state of journalism today.

As our industry continues to evolve and our world becomes ever more complex, how we define creativity and think about it in the context of society continues to change too. If there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that the power of creativity to drive positive change should make marketers and brands seek to help people experience our world in new ways like never before.

Your Customers Are Listening: The Way Your Brand Sounds Matters

STEVE BONNER

EVP, Strategic Innovation and Ideas, Starcom

Audio is having a moment. According to a recent Ipsos-iHeartRadio survey, radio reaches more consumers than any other audio channel, with 85 percent of consumers listening to a radio broadcast at least once per week, outpacing social media at 68 percent and live television at 56 percent. This year at Cannes, people everywhere were talking about music intelligence, mogos (musical logos), and audio brand identity. But looking at audio as the latest trend misses its power.

Power of Intimacy and Community: During an iHeartRadio session, we were reminded that radio isn’t just about audio, similarly as influencers aren’t just about video – they are both about people looking to connect with one another. Ryan Seacrest read a transcript of a call he received during his radio show, where one of his listeners shared that he had no one else to talk to. He was going through a very difficult time and didn’t have anyone to accompany him to chemotherapy treatments. As the caller was on the line, the switchboard started lighting up with other listeners offering to drive him to treatment, or to just be a shoulder to lean on.

Moving Beyond Music and Podcasts: Audio has transformed into musical logos and sound that contribute to the overall brand’s user experience. For example, in advance of Cannes, Pandora launched an audio brand consultancy called Studio Resonate that seeks to help brands think through an end-to-end audio strategy. Visa is also another brand honing in on this concept, integrating sound as part of the brand experience by adding tones and haptic responses to their transaction ecosystem.

Audio Not Just a Channel: The more marketers can understand with precision the tastes of our consumers, the better we can reflect their identities. Spotify announced a new intelligence product coming later this summer, allowing brands to understand nuanced listening behavior as part of their overall holistic audio approach, moving beyond music and pushing into podcasts to own the full audio journey.

One thing is abundantly clear: “audio” is more than just a form factor. What audio really represents is a community, comfort and assurance, familiarity and connection. For brands to succeed, audio should be handled strategically, not just as a “channel.” It is an opportunity to engage with frequency to build your brand’s story in a variety of ways.

Capturing Attention in an Era of Creativity

Left to right: Richard Hartell, Publicis Media; Geoffrey Colon, Microsoft Advertising; ReemAbeidoh, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

RICHARD HARTELL

Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis Media

Recognize and Remix Patterns 

Like fashion, what’s old is now new. Radio has become podcasts; billboards are digital and personalized; and TV is increasingly addressable. We’ve shifted from just universal mass communications to also focusing on what’s uniquely meaningful for a single person. Success in today’s world requires marketers to recognize and remix old patterns. It’s also why we need a mix of new and experienced marketing professionals to work together to rethink these patterns for a modern age.

Personalization Takes More Than AI & Data 

Today’s work represents a new type of creativity that demands diversity of thought and stimulus. Creativity using technology data and AI can all help, but also can hinder brands from taking risks, as it only works off of historic data to determine the future. Effective personalization will also still rely heavily on human intuition. Humanity remains necessary to tell a compelling story and deliver messages as marketers.

Future Sources of Inspiration 

A new form of creativity will require new talent to deliver it. We’ll see new talent profiles and roles like behavioral economists to understand what motivates people’s buying patterns. Gen Z will also be integral to driving new creativity, as their influence rapidly extends beyond their buying power.

Perspectives from the Awarding Jury Room

We are at a tipping point where entertainment marketing is becoming established in the marketing toolbox, rather than something you dip your toe in. The caliber of storytelling at Cannes stands beside the best that the entertainment industry has to offer. It’s as worthy of people’s time and money as anything else that people can consume.

Scott Donaton, Global Chief Creative Officer, Digitas, Entertainment Jury President

The work that stood out and drove maximum impact, engagement and business results was the work where you could see great planning principles in action. Collaboration and collective ideation is the future of our industry and the future of effective work for our clients. Brands are attaching themselves to a cause or purpose, with many focusing on key themes such as gender equality, environment, health, racism, politics, animal welfare, food safety and education.

Nickie Scriven, CEO, Zenith Australia, Awarding Media Juror

The judging experience this year was much more intimate, with just 10 people In the room. The work spanned a wide spectrum, from trade show installations to products. Purpose-led work continues to dominate. And within purpose, the zeitgeist was disability with consumer durables and tech solutions. But it’s no longer enough to align yourself with a cause—now, brands that take action are the ones that resonate.

Emma de la Fosse, Chief Creative Officer, Digitas UK, Awarding Brand Experience & Activation Juror

Data is the best language we have to describe our world empirically. Just like poets craft language to shed a “sideways” light on the world, the future of work in the Creative Data category will shed light on human truths in new ways and produce work with: whole-idea thinking, end-to-end strategies that transform the consumer experience and transform people; forward-thinking ethics—the work set precedents of data collection and use including, transparency and data democratization; and inclusive data storytelling. Data reveals the truths of underrepresented communities and sparks brand stories and acts.

Maurice Riley, Head of Media & Strategy, Digitas Australia, Awarding Creative Data Juror

Perspectives from the Shortlist Jury Room

Thanks to a politically-charged climate combined with emerging technology, brands are seeking to engage directly with consumers and not just communicate. The entries that stood out this year combined media innovation with cultural fluency. Make your limitations your strength. If you are a fast food brand, supporting an environmental cause will ring hollow. On the other hand, hijacking a video game like Fortnite – to smash up burger freezers – is an outstanding way to cut through the noise and make a point about your product.

Shula Sinclair, Global Head of Strategy, Spark Foundry, Media Shortlist Juror

It was great to be part of Cannes Media Lions jury, and to have the opportunity to actively consume, decode and evaluate so much quality work from all over the world is really inspiring! The media category is especially exciting and progressive. The work that stood out most created valuable experiences by building on a really strong idea, using data to be smart and relevant and activated with mobile as the key asset in an integrated network of paid, physical and earned media touchpoints.

Peder Mittet, CEO, Publicis Media Norway, Media Shortlist Juror

It’s clear that we are ushering in a new era of diversity and inclusion. Purpose-led brands are seeking creative inspiration from this societal movement to challenge stereotypes, ignite conversations and drive positive change. There were many inspiring pieces of work that sought to do this in ways both large and small – sparking new connections, building communities, creating new experiences or empowering people to take action. Stand-out work challenged stereotypes in powerful ways, tapping into a cultural moment at the right time, with the right message and drove impact at scale. Brands that will thrive today and in the future will understand and embrace the diversity of the human condition, seek diverse points of view and reflect that in their work.

Rathi Gangappa, CEO, Starcom India, Media Shortlist Juror

This year’s entries in the Automotive, Non-profit, Branded Content and Entertainment, Excellence In Media Planning and Integrated Media categories made it clear creativity has been empowered by data, insights and tech, with stories and experiences that focus on the true meaning of life, love and inclusivity. The language of entertainment has drastically broadened as brands and agencies look to leverage various platforms to deliver more seamless and native experiences. Agile activations around key culture moments using innovation, media and technology that ties with real-time emotions engage consumers the most. And a uniquely developed event, if executed with authenticity and sincerity, can truly win the hearts and attention of consumers, especially scaled effectively with social media.

Vivian Zhu, CEO, Zenith China, Media Shortlist Juror

How to Unleash the Power of Influencers

Influencer marketing is arguably still the Wild Wild West of the marcomms world, but that is not stopping savvy advertisers from unleashing the power of influencers to great effect. Marketing executives from brands including Anheuser-Busch InBev, General Mills, McDonald’s, Kimberly-Clark, Samsung, Visa and Instagram gathered at a Campaign magazine roundtable discussion hosted by Publicis Media to share influencer marketing best practices and the challenges they are facing.

Read the full recap here or watch the video highlights.

More from Publicis Media on Campaign

Musings on the Future of Creativity

Our Thought Leaders in the Press

Combine Data, Technology And Creativity To Make Brilliant Consumer Experiences

“This is the true purpose of creativity: to work hard yet naturally across the environments we place it in to achieve a consumer experience so seamless, it’s hard to tell where the brand experience begins and ends.”

– Tim Jones,  CEO, Publicis Media Americas

Let Intent-Based Marketing Fuel Creative

“If there is one thing to take home from Cannes, it’s this question: How often do I use digital insights to influence creative work? To have a brand strategy and creative conversations without leveraging digital intent signals means to push aside a ton of insights that could enhance the work.”

– Burcu Agma, VP, Strategic Planning and Insights, Performics

Chatbots And The New Consumer Conversation

“As chatbots are poised to improve quickly with increasing investment in NLP and AI, timing and right-sizing your investment in a new medium like chatbots will be critical. If it’s not on your roadmap to assess when it’s right to experiment or scale, it should be.”

– Amy Hunt, VP, Director of Data Sciences, Publicis Media

How To Fix Influencer Marketing (Yes, It’s Broken)

“We need to shift negative sentiment—both from an industry and consumer point of view—when it comes to seeing #AD alongside a post… Instead of using influencer campaigns exclusively to chase authenticity, we should look at what works best in this space and create groundbreaking influencer #ADs.”

– Kim Einan, Head of Experience Design, Starcom

Outstanding Creative Deserves Outstanding Measurement

“We need to break the wheel and create a true modern day solution to account for the whole individual, household and device-based ecosystem that we work within to prove the true value of content.”

– Jeff Wolfe, SVP, Branded Content, Spark Foundry

Laugh, Cry, Care: The Surest Paths To Cannes Gold

“At heart, our jury looked for work that was worthy of both a person’s time and a brand’s investment. Stories and experiences that made people laugh, cry or care. We also looked to reward things that were sustainable rather than one-off stunts.”

– Scott Donaton, Global Chief Creative Officer, Digitas

LinkedIn Live at Cannes Lions

Publicis Media Popup @ Cannes

At-A-Glance

Fueled by connections, our Publicis Media PopUp@Cannes program demonstrated how our creative power and perspective is amplified through the brilliance of storytelling, data, technology, diversity, purpose and so much more. 250 clients across Publicis Media engaged in parts of our 20+ hours of programming spanning four days, with eight custom PopUp sessions curated with our partners; two intimate lunch sessions with CBSi and iHeartMedia; a networking event with Google; our annual client dinner in partnership with Verizon Media and Spotify; and a special Publicis Groupe cocktail event.