After three years, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity returned in person for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic and let’s just say it definitely made up for lost time. Thousands of attendees flew to the south of France to celebrate the best of creativity and advertising. The experience went beyond the annual awards ceremony, with countless learnings, moments and highlights worth sharing. Here are my top takeaways below:
Vogue & Snap showcase the power of Augmented Reality
In this collaboration between Vogue and Snap, high fashion meets high tech as they team up to create an augmented reality (AR) exhibition. Each room has been curated by designers such as Balenciaga, Dior, Versace, and more. Inside, you could use Snap’s Lens technology to scan codes called “landmarks” to reveal AR experiences and try on clothes virtually. In the Gucci showroom, for example, you could virtually try on the fur coat and jacket on display.
While demonstrating the luxury of designer brands, this event also highlighted the applicability of AR in retail. According to Snap, 77% of customers were interested in accessing rooms where they could explore a virtual shopping experience and create a “try-before-buy” wardrobe, and 66% of customers using AR give their purchases less often back. With this, brands can use this technology to increase sales, reduce customer returns and protect their bottom line.
This exhibition also hit upon a larger trend as ASOS, Rayban and Sephora, to name a few, are already using AR shopping to creatively engage their customers. Going forward, AR technology holds tremendous potential as the global market size for AR products – such as head mounted displays, smart glasses, and stationary AR systems – is currently $6.12 billion, but is expected to reach 97 by 2028 $.76 billion, with Snap leading the way in bringing it to the masses.
The CEO of LinkedIn predicts the future of B2B advertising
During his keynote, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Rolansky talked about how nine out of ten biggest tech IPOs in the last year were B2B companies, meaning there’s likely to be a huge influx of B2B marketing spend in the years to come.
Just as Nike and The Coca-Cola Company first made their brands compelling to consumers years ago, Rolansky predicted that more B2B brands will do the same, but for their business customers — and do so by hiring more technical staff than before. Rolansky shared a few more stats that spoke to this point:
- In 2021, for every creative role hired, 1.25 technical roles were hired
- There was a 32% drop in hiring for creative skills (like strategy and branding) compared to a 47% increase in technical skills (like coding).
- The advertising industry lost 5.5% more people than it gained in the last 5 years.
Don’t be surprised if more B2B companies win Cannes Lions awards over the next few years.
Paris Hilton, Gary Vaynerchuk and Swan Sit discuss NFT marketing
In conversation with swan sits, Paris Hilton and Gary Vaynerchuk spoke about the future of NFTs and how brands can best capitalize on them. Hilton talked about how she created an early version of Paris World (now hosted on Roblox) in 2016 that was ahead of its time. Their vision of virtual nightclubs, helicopters, and mansions essentially predicted what we know today as the metaverse. It’s this type of forward thinking that led to their recent NFT launch on Origin Protocol in partnership with Superplastic.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of speaking with Hilton myself and asked her how she started her NFT journey and working with Origin Protocol. Along with this came her project, Past Lives, New Beginnings, which featured a 1/1, Open Edition and eleven limited edition NFTs to symbolize her closing one chapter and entering the next as a lawyer and entrepreneur.
As she and Vaynerchuk continue to invest in this space through VeeFriends, they’re encouraging brands to do the same: “Brands can call my company and I’ll make it happen,” Hilton said. Her best advice was the importance of working with the right people – and of course she’s one of them.
Celebrities demand more diversity
People often say, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Samuel Etienne moderated a panel at Bloomberg ESG House, where Martin Agency Chief Creative Officer Danny Robinson addressed this point:
“76% of non-white creative professionals didn’t even know [advertising] was a career when they were in high school,” he said. It’s an amazing statistic that celebrities like Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross and Ryan Reynolds are using their influence to make a difference.
On the same panel with Robinson and Etienne, Ryan Reynolds spoke about his latest initiative, Creative Ladder. This nonprofit organization aims to help students from all backgrounds learn about all the creative careers that await them and offers leadership training for those beginning their journey.
Tracee Ellis Ross later reflected on certain “mentoring programs” to say that it’s unfair to give someone an unpaid internship and then end up leaving them without a job. She said there was “nothing wrong with being a mentor, but giving positions to people. These “mentoring programs” that aren’t paid – that take advantage of people and everything they have to offer – and don’t promise a job at the end of that mentorship, don’t work.”
On the main stage at Cannes Lions, Issa Rae spoke about the work that still needs to be done to increase diversity and inclusion in the industry. “I still see prejudice in the industry,” she said. “Now there’s a public discourse about it, people can call it out and see the results.”
Rae leads by example by implementing a mandate on all her projects: 60% of all crew members on set must be from diverse backgrounds. It’s not the first time she’s challenged industry prejudice either — in 2014 she founded ColorCreative, a management company dedicated to supporting diverse creators and producing inclusive content.
Looking back on her career, Rae said she takes pride in “building a pipeline [and] letting people rise in the industry.”
Spotify takes audio beyond music
In addition to hosting concerts in Cannes with headliners from Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone and Dua Lipa, Spotify came to Cannes to talk about another important part of their platform: podcasts.
In less than four years, they have grown from just a few podcasts to a global leader. Lee Brown, Global Head of Advertising Business & Platform at Spotify, said: “Creators are the backbone of [this] business”, which is why it is so important to support them.
Spotify also hosted panel discussions with some of their top talent, including Batman Unburied voice actors Winston Duke and Hasan Minhaj, who spoke about the adaptation and their experiences creating the audio-only series.
Spotify has made it clear that podcasting is a priority and the company is committed to reaching younger listeners. Highly produced shows like Batman Unburied serve as a great entry point for audiences to discover other content from smaller creators. With so many different types of podcasts to enjoy, Spotify attracts a diverse audience — 32.5 million monthly listeners in the United States, and that number is still growing.
YouTube shared the latest trends in the creator economy
In her keynote, Debbie Weinstein, Vice President of YouTube & Video Global Solutions, spoke about how YouTube has paid its creators $30 billion over the past three years, more than any other social platform. Thanks to YouTube’s monetization programs, more creators are pursuing their craft full-time and earning a living from their content.
Weinstein also highlighted the growth of YouTube Shorts, the platform’s short-form video response on TikTok. She cited that there are over 30 billion views of shorts daily and 1.5 billion active shorts users. While this format is growing in popularity among Gen Z, viewers still haven’t given up on longer videos. In fact, 59% of viewers use YouTube Shorts to discover topics they want to watch longer versions of, and 60% of them use YouTube to find more content about a show or movie they just watched—what means that the two formats complement each other instead of competing.
Following Weinstein, Kevin Allocca, Global Director of Culture & Trends at YouTube, delivered an intriguing keynote address on the latest trends and insights across the platform. He spoke about several growing content genres, including:
- “Comfort Creator”: According to Alloca, 83% of Gen Z use YouTube to watch calming content that helps them relax. As a result, formats like ASMR are evolving as viewers expect creators to help them feel “comfortable” and reduce anxiety.
- “Community Creativity”: Creators turn niche interests into shared experiences. A great example is Big Jet TV, which drew almost 250,000 viewers to see creator Jerry Dyer’s coverage of planes that were piloting Storm Eunice as they landed at Heathrow Airport.
- “Multiformat Creativity”: Allocca echoed Weinstein’s earlier point about how developers use short films and long-form content to complement each other.
Allocca later spoke to YouTuber Mark Rober about his journey on YouTube over the past decade as they reminisced about the changing landscape and how best to navigate it. In closing, the pair said their best advice to creators is to focus on building dialogue, experimenting with formats, and listening to their audience’s needs.
With everything that’s happened at Cannes Lions this year, there were undoubtedly moments I missed, so feel free to comment below if you’ve been there and had other takeaways or insights to share.