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The Key Themes Emerging from Cannes Lions 2017

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Brea Carter

Marketing Manager

Freeman & FreemanXP EMEA

Georgina Campbell

Marketing and Events Intern

Freeman

Diversity and brand experience go hand in hand

Marketing, advertising, and communications professionals have returned to the iconic French Riviera for the 64th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, which spans multiple days of awards, thought leadership, and networking. As we make our way past the halfway mark, here’s what everyone’s talking about this year. 

Championing diversity

The act of pursuing diversity in the industry is a key theme that has emerged at the festival — in fact, women make up at least 43 percent of the juries in 2017. The Cannes events programme covers topics such as women and cinema, re-touching stereotypes, hiring young people, the notion that talent has no prejudice, and the refugee crisis. Various brands are also addressing the subject. YouTube, for example, delivered a decoding diversity session at its beach outpost earlier in the week, and it will host #PrideForEveryone day on Saturday — a move designed to celebrate diversity and promote LGBT inclusion. Meanwhile, The Girl’s Lounge brings women together to network, collaborate, and sit in on various talks.  

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Brand activity: from ferris wheels to workout sessions

Various consumer and business-focused brands are activating at Cannes this year. Situated in front of the Palais-Royal, a Ferris wheel from Snapchat is the talk of the town. The yellow-coloured wheel is unmissable to passers-by, who can download an event-themed lens and share their experience as they take a spin. Elsewhere, Pinterest created a real-life pinboard on the Palais, which showcases a curated list of top eateries and must-visit sights (selected by jurors) for attendees to see in the resort town. And here’s one for the fitness fanatics — Oracle is hosting free CannesFit workout sessions at its beachside Oracle Deck on select mornings. 

A clear tech focus

We know that tech has the ability to transform brand experiences, and the same can be said for other forms of advertising and marketing. This could explain why everything from chat bots and voice technologies to the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), immersive tech like augmented reality (AR), and mixed reality have been woven throughout this year’s content programme. Particularly interesting sessions include Creativity in the Experience Age, and Scenography and the Art of Experiential Marketing, both of which highlight how designing meaningful experiences for audiences, and embracing tech to heighten these experiences is the way of the future. 

What’s new this year?

Cannes is the place to visit to explore what’s new and now in the industry, which makes the Discovery Zone hosted by Lions Innovation a welcome addition in 2017. The platform sees delegates explore some of the world’s most innovative start-ups, offering them the chance to learn about how companies’ products and services might help fuel their own creative strategies. In recognition of the country’s creativity, innovation, and technological advancements, Cannes also welcomed China Day for the first time this year. This one-day event featured talks on Chinese creativity delivered by creatives, tech experts, and Chinese clients. Finally, a number of fresh awards categories have been introduced this year, which are reflective of the changes happening in this fast-paced sector. These include VR Film, Creative Marketing Effectiveness, Corporate Social Responsibility, Design Excellence in Effectiveness, and Data Strategy and Excellence in Media. 

Cannes is known for showcasing the latest award-winning creative work, delving into key industry trends, topics, and issues through informative talks, interviews and interactive sessions. It’s clear 2017 is no exception. Importantly, brand experience was evident throughout — countless global companies chose to activate at the event, meanwhile the content programme delved into the benefits of this interactive, live engagement strategy, particularly when it comes to connecting with audiences in new ways. 

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