OPINION28 June 2022

Cannes conclusions: a look back at the International Festival of Creativity 2022

Europe Media Opinion Trends

Cannes Lions is the largest gathering in the creative marketing community and this year’s in-person event was eagerly awaited after the pandemic obliged it to go digital in 2021. Sarah Owen spoke to some of those who attended to glean their thoughts and hear their takeaways.

The Palais des Festivals in Cannes

Rachel Clarke, founding partner, Strat House
A common thread through much of the winning work was purpose – the creation of an initiative or activity that made a real difference to the lives of the targeted group. These award-winning activities build brand or drive sales through their PR impact; but there’s an important watch-out for brands who try to replicate this approach. 

The consumer insight absolutely must lead to a relevant and authentic connection with the audience, so that they are convinced that the brand is genuinely intent on driving change.  If brands get this wrong, they risk consumers concluding that they are insincere and jumping on the purpose bandwagon to drive sales.

Louise Johnson, chief executive, Fuse
Cannes Lions 2022 was a welcome return after two years of the pandemic. The sun beamed and the Croisette was packed with festival goers enjoying the vast array of talks in the Palais, hosting client meetings and events.

However, there was a more serious tone that set the backdrop to this year’s festival, from Greenpeace staging a series of protests against brands greenwashing and debates on lack of diversity in the ad industry to President Volodymer Zelenskyy’s video address reminding people about the war in his country.

Amongst this contrast, I was pleased to see that sport as a marketing platform came out strong again this year in the winning work and in particular the Grand Prix, picking up the Titanium as a creative tool to create actual change. Some of the best were Super Humans by Channel 4, an incredible Paralympics trailer, and The Breakaway by Decathlon, a case study about the first e-cycling team for prisoners.

Sarah Bauman, managing director, VaynerMedia UK
Cannes this year felt special.  People are more appreciative of what they have and putting more effort in to get more value out. Connecting with global colleagues was number one on everyone’s list and relationships forged and deepened internally and that carried through to clients and partners.

For me, it felt more about macro ‘future of marketing’ issues than the work itself (though we did note the strange absence of the platforms we talk about every day with our clients and where brands are winning). We were excited about the genuine discussions around NFTs and metaverse for the first time, talked non-stop about the now inarguable value of digital and social and – on a more sobering note – the recession that’s likely going to dominate the time until we’re next in Cannes.

Lizi Hamer, executive creative director, Octagon and No2ndPlace
This year at Cannes Lions we saw a further increase of creative work made to help create a more equitable and justice society, using sport as the vehicle or momentum maker. The award-winning creative work was developed to make changes to the law that better society; we witnessed this in the beautiful case study about women’s football, Stuck in the 80s. Another example was Unbreakable Courts, which demonstrated spectacularly how to circumnavigate the laws in place holding back disenfranchised members of society.

After viewing over 300 submissions, we discovered the audience demands deep stories told in ways they can explore. The ability to be brought into a story around your passion and interact with it was evident in the most-loved creative works, such as for instance Long Live the Prince, a campaign created to raise awareness of knife crime, represented through multiple relatable touch points., 

Los Santos, meanwhile, gave fans the chance to step into something almost unimaginable in a chilling story of the impact of climate change, and the simple narrative of Samsung Fast Frame saw an athlete sharing their history before, during and after the event – a lengthy engagement.

Lastly, Grand Prix winner Nike Sync, an app that helps women sync their training to their menstrual cycle in order to maximise their energy and fitness, created a new narrative with its audience, through building unique stories and never-before-asked questions for all to explore.

Nancy Smith, president and chief executive of Analytic Partners
As a first timer, it was quite the experience.  I’ve learned that the ‘magic’ of Cannes isn’t the great minds, or the amazing advertising creative, nor the topical panel discussions and debates.  It isn’t the yachts, dinners, the artist concerts or beach parties. The magic is the spontaneity, the randomness, the unexpected – the opportunity to connect beyond what you know and who you know.

 Sarah Owen is the CEO of Pumpkin PR