Cannes Lions 2024 Roundup

We were lucky enough to attend the Cannes Festival this year. It's the one chance to get a full perspective of what is going on in the industry. A walk down the Promenade de la Croisette observing the key players on the beach or in the hotels indicates the direction of travel.Amazon had the largest presence on the strip showcasing their full range of creative, tech and media capability. The 'House of Amazon' was their largest yet with over 200 Amazonians in attendance; to attend they had to book a minimum of 11 meetings over the week. Clearly, Amazon saw this as a major networking opportunity. From our perspective, this was a fabulous opportunity to meet with our Amazon Advertising friends from the UK, Europe and the US, often in one session. Here are our key insights from the few days:

  • Amazon Targeting and Brand Building: Amazon used the event to announce the launch on Ad Relevance their new cookie less ad-targeting tool (see last weeks newsletter for details). They showcased their full range of brand building capabilities, like Twitch, Prime Video, IMDB, Amazon Live and Amazon Influencers. In private sessions to their Advanced Partners they shared their roadmap for new AMC, API and Prime video features coming in 2024/25. We can't reveal anything yet, but there are some exciting developments!
  • The Rise of Retail Media Networks (RMNs): RMN's based in the UK, US or Europe were visible for the first time at Cannes alongside technology like Skai, Citrus Ads and Perpetua that make them easy to access. The US was noticeably more advanced with Instacart, Kroger and Wallmart having a stronger presence. Whilst there was excitement in their emergence, the lack of standardization and operational processes within the RMN space is a current concern. Brands and agencies are asking for more consistency and efficient approach for both buyers and sellers.
  • Integration: The major holding companies have merged some agencies (e.g. WPP), bought in new capabilities (e.g. Omnicom & Flywheel) or invested in new divisions (e.g. Dentsu Labs) to integrate creative, media, and commerce for a better customer experience and maximum impact. This is a real challenge for the industry as traditionally these functions have been siloed divisions.
  • Influencers: Influencers took centre stage in many key note presentations. We attended many panel discussion on how to effectively find and manage influencers to improve brand favourability and drive sales. Influencer agencies (e.g. Whaler) and technology platform (e.g. Upfluence) were highly visible indicating a dramatic rise in this medium as a marketing tool. The influencers themselves (e.g. Jackie Aina, Alix Earle and Carter Gregory) could be seen walking around creating content for their huge social followers
  • AI's Expanding Role: While the discussion around AI applications in marketing has been ongoing, Cannes 2024 saw a shift towards action. Brands are moving beyond ideation and implementing AI for specific tasks. The focus remains on leveraging AI for efficiency without sacrificing creative quality and human insight.
  • Data, Data Everywhere: Consolidated data access was a hot topic. Brands and agencies are looking for platforms that allow for easy data exchange and enable them to transact effectively. This is particularly relevant for RMNs, where both buyers and sellers need streamlined access to data to optimize campaigns. Amazon Marketing Cloud is at the forefront of this development.
  • Social Purpose: Purpose-driven marketing continues to be a strong trend. However, there has been a shift away from Brand Purpose to more Social Purpose. Consumers are increasingly drawn to brands that reflect their values and contribute positively to society. Many of the leading Cannes creative winners tackled social and environmental issues in a thought-provoking and authentic way.
  • Storytelling lives on: Despite the ever-changing media landscape and emergence of AI to short cut creativity, effective storytelling remains paramount. Cannes showcased many new innovative formats like immersive experiences and interactive storytelling that captivate audiences across platforms.

It's difficult to summarise everything we saw, so happy to answer any questions you have about the event. Please feel free to get in touch.Did you attend the event? What were your take outs? I would love to hear your thoughts.