Keeping It Real in Cannes: It’s a Good Time to Toast Marketing That Stands the Test of Time

by | Jun 21, 2023

As much as anything can be a sure bet, is there anything more certain than the endless discussions each June at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity about the hottest trends and ideas in the ad industry? On everyone’s lips this year: The potential of generative AI, the future of Twitter and TikTok, and the risk of influencer affiliations in a divided U.S. 

Keep in mind that often the new technologies, innovations and ideas people think will reinvent our industry or sow chaos often last about as long as the rosé that fuels the season’s conversations. 

Pokémon Go, anyone? It was the talk of the town in 2016. And two years later, Alibaba touted an AI-powered copywriting tool that could write 20,000 lines of ad copy a second. And even though virtual reality was trumpeted in festival sessions and at cocktail parties for years—remember Microsoft’s HoloLens device?—VR headsets haven’t yet replaced sunglasses, and these days even Meta is disinclined to mention the metaverse (and Apple’s Vision Pro has now shifted the rhetoric to spatial computing).

This week’s festival, created by a group of international cinema screen ad contractors inspired by the Cannes Film Festival, is celebrating its 70th year, and as usual there’s the promise of exciting new developments. It’s also a good time to keep in mind some clear-eyed marketing fundamentals that are even more enduring than this annual gathering.


Integrated marketing is more important than ever

As an industry we need to be more thoughtful about how we interact with and engage consumers across multiple touchpoints, from CTV and websites to our mobile devices and through IRL in-store shopping. Given the ongoing fragmentation in media, coupled with the proliferation of platforms that are walled gardens, the need for fully connected advertising strategies is greater than ever.


Word of mouth isn’t just talk

Online influencers—celebrities and self-made social media stars—aren’t going away, but we can’t forget the power of the average person championing our brands in large and small ways day in and day out. That’s why consumer experience is still so crucial: It’s how we turn customers into advocates. Even in a challenging environment, we cannot afford to pull back on prioritizing customer service and those personalized consumer experiences that drive brand loyalty and endorsements.

Outstanding creativity still rules

Despite all the excitement about data and technology, the main reason so many people make the trek to the South of France in the first place is to see and celebrate great work from around the world. Sure, AI may help us produce even better work more efficiently, but it will never approach humans’ capacity to create art that inspires and moves. Stories based on personal experience, empathy and insight are what connect us all as humans. 


Marketing basics may not grab headlines in Cannes, but they are Lion-award-worthy in an industry that celebrates shiny new toys. 

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