Credit: The Marketing Society Cannes Secret Garden Lunch

Highlights from Cannes Lions 2023: AI, Unity, and Inspiring Moments

Tim Anderson from BBC Studios, takes us behind the scenes of his week at Cannes Lions 2023, sharing his key takeaways and inspiring moments. 

Hot, tired, inspired – that’s how feel as I write this missive at Nice airport and reflect on the whirlwind of another Cannes Lions. I always describe it as Glastonbury for media folk – amazing things at every turn and a constant sense you’re missing something no matter what you do.

One thing I was very glad not to miss was The Marketing Society’s secret garden lunch in partnership with MediaLink - a perfect opportunity for like-minded marketing leaders to take a beat amidst the craziness of Cannes. Conversations on our table focused on the power of effective communication, led by BBC News’ analysis editor Ros Atkins,  AI (inevitably - and more below) and how positive this Cannes had felt. Plus it was topped off by the magnificent Emmy and Grammy award-winning comedian Tiffany Haddish talking about the importance of comedy in communication.

Much of the discussion over lunch reflected my overall take on the festival and while the following will not do justice to the 70th edition of Cannes Lions and merely scratches the surface, here is what I noticed as I ran up and down the Croisette.

All about AI

Unsurprisingly AI was one of the biggest talking points and views on its impact on our business varied, ranging from bullish: “last year it was Metaverse, this year it is AI, next year it will be something else” (a CMO on a panel in the Palais), to open “we now consider ChatGPT to be a board member (a guest at the Secret Garden lunch)  to definitive “in 10 years time all media buying and planning will be done by AI” (Sir Martin Sorrell during his keynote).

What did seem to unite everyone was the view that we need to lean in and use the power of AI to be more creative and serve our audiences and customers better. This was perfectly demonstrated by Tiffany Haddish who’d asked AI to write a joke in the style of Tiffany Haddish (“it wasn’t funny until I got involved”). And we’re all desperate to hear the hip-hop track she is writing with AI on the subject of maths, vodka and success!

Unity and Positivity

On the subject of being united…I also detected a real sense of unity and positivity around the festival. Last time I was in town (pre-pandemic) there was a lot of talk about the need for our industry to do more good, this time it was there to be seen in 3 important ways:

  1. In what we do/the work: AB InBev’s CMO Marcel Marondes used his festival curtain-raiser to showcase some great work for Corona that had real social impact and drove significant growth.
  2. In how we do it: for example, Pinterest's Internet Pledge launched at the Palais, one CMO’s approach to purpose “when you know what you believe, you know how to behave” and another on being brave “fear is just excitement in disguise”.
  3. And (most importantly) how we act: I saw a number of inspirational sessions including one at the Female Quotient moderated by BBC News’ very own Katty Kay with 4 female marketing execs about how diverse boards and women CMOs are driving growth. To quote one of the panellist “If you don’t have a chair at the table, bring your own chair”.

Finally, from a personal/professional POV, it was extremely gratifying to have our presenters and execs taking part in so many panels, interviews and podcasts with media agencies making the case for brands to invest their ad dollars in news – especially as it becomes harder to find audiences in safe and suitable environments.

So hot, tired, and inspired..the first two will fade quickly, but the key is to capture the last one and make sure it impacts what happens when you get back to the office.

PS. As I wrote this I got my favourite whatsapp message of Cannes “I never knew I loved Paris Hilton so much!”.  

 

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