Thought Leadership

Yes you Cannes!

Marketing leaders have their say on how the Cannes Festival of Creativity sparked their thinking this year.

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


In an industry where creativity is king but so much of our time is taken up with the day-to-day to-do list, we so rarely get to take the time out to get inspired and fuel curiosity. 

Cannes Lions may have grown synonymous with sunshine, parties and rose wine on the Croisette, but it also offers the rare opportunity to take a moment to appreciate the great work the industry has to offer. Even if you didn’t make it to Cannes, the opportunity to be inspired by the work remains.

The festival makes space to reflect on the genre-defining work that sees the advertising industry make real-world impact. Be it spending time with some of the industry's best talent or taking a moment to truly appreciate what can be achieved by creativity, we asked industry leaders what sparked their creative thinking at Cannes this year.

Amelia Shepherd

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Director of Growth

Wonder (Amplify’s B2B and B2E specialist agency)

After attending Cannes for the first time, it struck me that the event’s real purpose is rooted in people: connection, community, creativity and collaboration. In between all the shared insights and celebrations of creativity, the biggest benefit was reconnecting with people, meeting new talent, building new partnerships, getting inspired, finding new ops and – most importantly – having fun. I’ll return to Wonder with renewed energy to get out more and make more face-time with teams, peers, and partners. And remember that one of our industry’s biggest perks is the fun it can bring.

Lauren Estwick

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New Business and Marketing Director

House 337 (sports practice)

Creativity and sport was a big theme at Cannes this year and the work I saw was exciting on a number of fronts. One is the welcome reminder that business impact and societal impact are not mutually exclusive – something powerfully demonstrated by the success of Orange’s ‘WoMen’s Football’. Another is the shift this year among big brands to women’s football – underlining sport’s unrivalled ability to build your brand and business. The awards success of RC Celta’s anthem come love letter ‘Oliveira Dos Cen Anos’ proves the power of winning fans' hearts by making them really care – and also, that creative brilliance comes in many shapes and forms. But perhaps the greatest lesson of all from Cannes this year for me is the power of we: how when we come together, we achieve great things. And how when we put aside our egos and do what’s right for the idea and the sport, it's a win-win for everyone associated with it.

Laurent Simon

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I love coming to Cannes. The world’s best ideas made by the world’s best. All in one place. You can’t help but be inspired. 

I was really pleased to see that Cannes Lions introduced the Humour category – humour and fun have been infused in so much of the work awarded at the festival over the years but it’s great to see the value of funny officially recognised. Life and the world has been tough on so many people recently – seeing the brighter side of things has been a necessity and it‘s something that we as creatives can offer our audiences.

What is more, at a moment in time where the industry is consumed by AI, Humour is also an extremely human way into the work. Personally, I’m hopeful about AI. Creatives have always been used to using tools and if it’s employed to help improve productivity and let us get on with the fun, human side of things then I’m all for it.

The day after the festival finishes is notoriously known as first day of the year, our January 1st. Clean slate. Head full of dreams. I hope to see as many of you as possible on and off-stage next year.

Fi Case

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The nugget from TikTok on short-form to longer-form content on platforms such as TikTok, with content now averaging over a minute, is a significant takeaway. This change means clients and brands must be prepared to invest in higher-quality, longer-form content, which, while more expensive, allows for long-term brand building and increased audience engagement. It provides an opportunity for greater creativity (human, not AI generated!) and more effective communication.

We've been taught to create short-form content to capture attention on social media within 3 seconds. However, as audiences grow weary of endless scrolling, longer-form content offers a moment of respite, encouraging deeper engagement and ultimately leading to greater brand awareness and connection. Quality is key, evolving from the ubiquitous UGC style of the COVID era to more polished, higher-production content.

The consensus at Cannes Lions is that investing in human creativity is a strategic move that enhances brand recognition, consumer engagement, and business growth. While marketing trends fluctuate, the fundamentals remain the same: be distinctive, meaningful, and engaging for your audience, and invest in these principles for the long term.

Lauren Coates

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Creative Director


As predicted, the line for Elon Musk practically circled the Palais, so I skipped that one. AI the hot topic, but the consensus is that it can't replace real human creativity. While AI may evolve, it currently lacks the empathy, warmth, and connection that make winning work relatable and emotional. Another key discussion focused on the scalability of art; the most scalable things often become generic. I understand the drive for brands and films to reach mass audiences, but this can jeopardize art and storytelling. And then there was the basement of the Palais, where the real magic happened. Endless rows of inspiring case studies and work were on display, showcasing the sheer amount of effort put into creating something award-worthy for this one week. Even making it onto one of the boards is an achievement their teams should be proud of. The festival genuinely sparks creativity by immersing us in an atmosphere filled with innovative ideas, inspiring work, and thought-provoking discussions that (like the hangovers) stay with us long after we leave.

Ed Fletcher

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Co-Managing Director

Shape History

This year, it was disappointing that sustainability continues to largely be limited to the fringes. Our industry has exceptional power and influence change, but we just didn’t see any significant shift towards inspiring positive action. I can't help but feel that we're missing a golden opportunity here to mainstream tackling the climate crisis into the Festival. Bringing together greater collaboration and collective power of the entire industry is definitely something I’ll be focusing on moving forward.

Yelena Gaufman

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Chief Strategy Officer


Cultural credibility has replaced purpose in advertising. For the industry, that means we need to look at creativity as a way of helping brands earn their way into culture. We need to adopt a culture-first approach and the only way to authentically do this is by ensuring adland is more reflective of the culture it seeks to infiltrate.

The most inspiring talk I went to this year was with Sinéad Burke, founder of Tilting The Lens, and it centred around the idea that creativity needs diversity of thought. It’s about understanding how humans relate to each other, breaking barriers, and finding businesses that are driving change to partner with. An example of this is a recent partnership between Smirnoff and Tilting The Lens on a campaign promoting accessibility in hospitality. The brand looked outside of their category to make a difference and partner with people who are making real inroads in culture, and that’s the future.

But earning your way into culture doesn’t have to mean trying to make a difference in the world. Another good example of a brand successfully tapping into culture to drive earned impressions is Kraft Heinz’s Gigi Hadid-inspired Pasta Alla Vodka sauce last year. That collaboration proved that cultural credibility is particularly important for traditional brands who want to stay true to who they are while reinventing themselves and feeling of the moment.

Pawan Wankhede

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MD UK And Europe

LS Digital

This year's Cannes Lions heralded promising developments in AI's integration within the creative industry. While human-driven concepts dominated the awards, notable AI campaigns were recognised, including a Grand Prix winner that matched shelter dogs with adopters and another using deepfake technology to showcase female footballers' successes.

Major media groups proudly showcased their AI investments and innovative initiatives, demonstrating the industry's significant commitment to exploring AI's potential. Publicis' app, translating AI ‘jargon’ from festival speeches into layman's terms, underscored the growing accessibility of AI technologies.

The creative industries, known for quickly adopting new technologies, are beginning to embrace AI. This gradual integration allows seasoned creatives to explore how AI can enhance their idea-generation processes rather than replace them. This proved most notable within the media planning awards categories, where AI's significant contributions shone through, suggesting that the technology’s value is increasingly recognised in this area.

As the creative sector navigates the intricate integration of AI, new award categories could further acknowledge generative innovations, celebrating the synergy between human creativity and AI. This positive trajectory indicates a future where AI and human creativity coexist, driving the industry towards new heights of innovation.

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