Creative, Tech, and Content Converge: 3 Takeaways from Cannes 2019

Cannes Lions has long provided a unique platform for perspectives from advertising and media executives from across the globe. This year was no exception as its growing breadth of attendees continued to push the event beyond its focus as a creative awards show. Here are a few takeaways from this year’s conversations along the Croisette:

Still (Mostly) About “The Work”

Depending on your reasons for attending Cannes, it can be increasingly easy to forget that the festival is, first and foremost, a celebration of advertising creativity, a.k.a “the work”. In fact, in a recent Digiday survey 44% of advertising executives surveyed said the event’s primary focus was no longer on celebrating advertising creativity.

However, what we did see was more discussion than ever surrounding the impact of campaigns from a business perspective. Having creative and business minds co-mingle will indeed have a positive industry impact, especially as the data wonks begin to recognize the importance of good creative, and the need for programmatic tech to power it.

Consumer Privacy and Brand Safety in the Spotlight

While they weren’t always main stage fodder, anxiety-producing conversations surrounding data privacy and brand safety were certainly top of mind for brands, agencies, and vendors. On the latter point, the Brand Safety Institute (BSI) officially launched its accreditation program during this year’s Cannes Lions with involvement from a diverse set of social platforms and technology vendors.

One outgrowth of intensifying pressure on consumer privacy was the sheer volume of consumer ID discussions among technology vendors. As the mounting privacy backlash has pushed the triopoly even further toward walled garden solutions for consumer targeting and measurement, many vendors are hoping to fill the gap with privacy-friendly solutions for the rest of the web.

The Next Big Thing?

Some lamented that there was no “one big thing” at this year’s Cannes, but OTT was the clear winner on the platform side, dominating the conversation among technology providers and content producers alike. GenZ finally usurped the crown from millenials as marketers’ new demographic obsession. This thread was hugely influential in driving conversations on the creative side, many of which dealt with the right way for brands to tackle purpose-driven marketing.

Anticipation for the coming wave of 5G devices and their impact on content delivery and consumer media consumption was also pervasive. Unsurprisingly, the buzziest new apps were video-first platforms Quibi and TikTok – both poised to capitalize on the cross section of high-speed mobile connectivity and marketer demand for GenZ engagement.

Looking ahead, perhaps we are witnessing the evolution of Cannes Lions from a Global Creative Festival to a Global Marketing Festival. That is to say an event that sits more squarely at the intersection of consumer insight, creative development, packaging, and media. It may not always be as fun as chasing the next shiny object, but understanding the big picture could help us all improve advertising efficacy and better serve the consumer.