3 Things To Look Out For At Cannes This Year

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, June 14, 2019

The only constant in our industry is change, and with Cannes Lions kicking off next week, I’m intrigued to see how the dynamics, power players and agendas have shifted since last year.

While it's impossible to predict exactly how the festival will play out, there are three key themes I will be keeping top of mind as I watch it all unfold from the French Riviera.

Brands will begin to see the value of "out-housing" their in-housing projects

We have seen a growing number of brands, most recently Nestle and Pepsico, bring advertising under their own roof. Yet many have miscalculated the size and scale of such an undertaking and realised the challenges and complexities of opting for an in-house structure.

As a result, we are seeing brands such as Marriott adopting a more pragmatic and non-binary approach by transitioning to hybrid models. By embracing the specialist expertise of agencies and consultancies and merging them with their own capabilities, brands are opening themselves up to value-added services and creative opportunities, such as agency access to the latest data and insights -- helping brands set themselves apart from the pack.



The Festival's "Cannes Lions Debate: Will In-housing Creativity Fail" session at the Debussy Theatre at 12.00 p.m. on Thursday, June 20 will delve deeper into the pros and cons of the trend and explore how agencies can persuade clients that true creativity lies with them.

Big agency networks could be going out of business unless they adapt  

It's no secret that budgets are getting squeezed, and brands are increasingly in the market for two things. First, a much closer relationship between media and creative -- after all, to be truly effective, creative must be designed with the right channel in mind.

What works for Snapchat won't necessarily work on YouTube, let alone a billboard. In addition, marketers should be constantly evaluating and improving their approach -- refining creatives in real-time, based on campaign performance data.

Secondly -- and equally important -- many businesses are looking for a more agile, scalable agency model, where they are able to buy increments of time and local knowledge and insight when they need it.

Of course, the traditional global networks still have their place. Their reach and scale mean that for big global brands, they can quickly assemble and deploy a multi-disciplinary, multi-market team with exactly the right skills and experience.

But I would not be surprised if -- against the backdrop of budgetary pressures and new entrants into the market, in the form of consultancies and independents -- at least one of the big agency networks takes a tumble this year. Speculation will be rife about who that could be.

The rise of tech on the beach won't diminish the importance of creative

Year after year, tech and ad-tech companies swell over the beaches of Cannes, and they are becoming some of the Festival's most influential players. From Snap's famous ferris wheel to OpenX's sponsorship of this year's premiere beach, tech is encroaching and splashing the cash that many of today's media and creative agencies simply will not.

But the rise of tech does not mean Cannes Lions' theme of creativity will be diminished. The truth is that although technology is evolving the industry along with the way we do our business, one cannot survive without the other.

Merging human strategy with tech advancement is the best way to make creativity shine -- a theme that we will see unpacked in sessions such as "How To Future-Proof Creativity." Taking place at the Luminaire Theatre Palais I at 11:45 a.m. on Monday, June 17, this session will explore how new technologies such as AI and 3D content creation will raise the bar for creatives and play a powerful role in the future of creativity.

Whether you’re a fan or a critic of Cannes Lions, it can't be denied that the Festival is our industry’s biggest celebration of creativity, and also its greatest barometer of evolution, innovation and success.

I look forward to seeing where we as an industry measure up -- with a glass of rosé in hand, of course.

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