Countdown to Creativity: Cannes Lions 2017

June 17, 2017

Cannes Lions

This guest post was contributed by Steve Blakeman, Managing Director-Global Accounts, OMD. 

The 64th iteration of the annual Rosé Drinking Championship — er, I mean, the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity — commences on Saturday, and I’ve taken a sneak peak at the schedule of events to see what’s hot and what’s not.

Over the past decade, the trend at Cannes has been to focus on star appeal and judging by the snaking queues to get into these events it’s clearly a tactic that works. Hollywood A listers such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Will Smith and Channing Tatum took center stage last year at the Palais. And the line-up this year is arguably more impressive with the likes of Alicia Silverstone, Armin Van Buuren, Demi Lovato, Ellie Goulding, Halle Berry, Dame Helen Mirren, Laura Dern, Mena Suvari, Ron Howard, Ryan Seacrest, Simon Le Bon, and Sir Ian McKellen treading the boards of Debussy and Lumiere.

But beyond the glamour and glitz of the celebrity guests, there is also much more to enjoy across the 8 days / 18 stages / 450+ talks on offer to the 15,000 or so delegates. Many of the presentations revolve around how the media landscape continues to morph as almost everything becomes digitized. Plus, there's a strong focus on how brands are increasingly turning to entertainment content to engage with their customers. Other featured themes include curated talks on aspects of our industry including diversity, creativity for good, visions of the future and brave brands.

It’s difficult to pick out individual slots, but one session that caught my eye was “Can Data Make You Funnier,” featuring Ginger the Robot who is billed as a “professional robot actor and comedian.” It poses the question as to whether a robot, through the use of big data, can master one of the most difficult skills a human can achieve: to make others laugh. Not an easy task, but I’d wager that Ginger could give Harry Hill a run for his money.

But it’s not all about what happens at the Palais, as the event has inevitably expanded onto the Croisette and its beautiful beaches. Social media and search giants have a slew of fireside chats and seminars down by the sea, and OMD will be back at their usual Cabana location for the 5th OMD Oasis (cheap plug). This year the 4 key themes will be:

  • Smarter Stories for Growth
  • Everything is media
  • Anything is content
  • Everywhere is data

There is also a pretty impressive list of speakers including Imran Khan (Snapchat), Mark Thompson (New York Times) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) to name but a few. All that and free cocktails from 4:30pm. What’s not to like?

And finally to the awards themselves, which is the real reason why this event exists. Allegedly. The past two years have been particularly strong with the likes of the Volvo 'Live Test' featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme doing the splits between two trucks and the cute John Lewis Christmas campaign featuring Monty the Penguin.

This year a total of 390 judges from 50 countries will pore over an estimated 45,000+ entries. And given that ‘diversity’ is a core theme of the event this year it’s interesting to note that 42% of this years judges are women, which is the highest ever (and more than double the number from 2012).

It’s a tad too early to predict who the likely winners will be this year (many of the shortlists haven’t been released yet), but I fully expect a focus on ‘bravery’ given the highlight on the agenda. And with all new categories this year for 360° video, virtual reality and augmented reality, it’s reasonable to assume that the ultimate winners will have an element of these new technologies as a focal part of their composition. For a full review of all winners and a ‘best of’ review of the 2017 Lions look out for my blog late next week. Until then ‘bonne chance’ and ‘a toute à l'heure’. Je pense. 

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Photo: Eric Borda

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