After three years, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity brought back in-person attendance for the first time since the pandemic hit, 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 in creativity and advertising. The experience went beyond just the annual award show with tons of learnings, moments, and highlights worth sharing. Here’s my top takeaways below:
Vogue & Snap Showcase the Power of Augmented Reality
High fashion met high tech in this collaboration between Vogue and Snap as they teamed up to create an augmented reality (AR) exhibition. Each room was 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 virtually try on clothes. For example, in the Gucci exhibition room, you could virtually try on the fur coat and suit jacket on display.
While this event demonstrated the luxury of designer brands, it also highlighted the applicability of AR in retail. According to Snap, 77% of customers were interested in accessing spaces where they could explore a virtual shopping experience and create a ‘try before you buy’ wardrobe and 66% of customers who use AR are less likely to return their purchases. With that, brands can use this technology to increase sales, reduce customer returns, and protect their bottom line.
This exhibit also hit on a greater trend as ASOS, Rayban, and Sephora, to name a few, already use AR shopping to creatively engage their customers. Moving 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 at $6.12 billion but projected to grow to $97.76 billion by 2028 with Snap at the forefront of bringing it to the masses.
LinkedIn CEO Predicts Future of B2B Advertising
During his keynote, LinkedIn CEO Ryan Rolansky spoke about how nine out of ten of last year’s largest tech IPO’s were B2B companies which means that there will likely be a huge influx in B2B marketing spend in coming years.
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 clients — and do it by hiring more technical employees than before. Rolansky shared a few more statistics that spoke to this point:
- In 2021, for every creative role hired, 1.25 technical roles were hired
- There’s been a 32% decline in hiring for creative skills (like strategy and branding) compared to a 47% increase in tech skills (like coding)
- The ad industry lost 5.5% more people than it gained in the past 5 years.
Don’t be surprised if we see more B2B companies winning awards at Cannes Lions in the next few years.
Paris Hilton, Gary Vaynerchuk & Swan Sit Discuss NFT Marketing
In a conversation with Swan Sit, Paris Hilton and Gary Vaynerchuk spoke about the future of NFTs and how brands can best take advantage. Hilton spoke about how she created an early version of Paris World (now hosted in Roblox) back in 2016, which was ahead of its time. Her vision of virtual nightclubs, helicopters, and mansions essentially predicted what we know as the metaverse today. It’s this kind of forward thinking that led to her most recent NFT launch on Origin Protocol in collaboration with Superplastic.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of speaking with Hilton myself and I asked her about how she started her NFT journey and working with Origin Protocol. With that came her project “Past Lives, New Beginnings,” featuring a 1/1, open edition, and eleven limited edition NFTs meant to symbolize ending one chapter and entering the next as an advocate and entrepreneur.
As she and Vaynerchuk continue to invest in this space through VeeFriends, they encourage brands to do the same: “Brands can call my company and I will make it happen”, said Hilton. Her best advice was the significance of partnering with the right people – and of course, she’s one of them.
Celebrities Call For Greater Diversity
People often say, “you can’t be what you can’t see.” At the Bloomberg ESG House, Samuel Etienne hosted a panel which featured Martin Agency’s Chief Creative Officer Danny Robinson who spoke to 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 a staggering statistic that celebrities like Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross, and Ryan Reynolds are using their influence to change.
At the same panel with Robinson and Etienne, Ryan Reynolds spoke about his latest initiative, Creative Ladder. This nonprofit aims to help students from all backgrounds learn about all the creative careers that await them, and offers leadership training for those beginning their journeys.
Later, Tracee Ellis Ross reflected on certain “mentorship programs” to say that it’s unfair to give someone an unpaid internship and then leave them high and dry without a position when it ends. She said there’s “nothing wrong with being a mentor, but give people positions. These ‘mentor programs’ that don’t pay — that utilize people and everything they have to offer — then don’t promise a job at the end of that mentorship, does not work.”
On the Cannes Lions main stage, Issa Rae talked about the work that stil needs to be done to increase diversity and inclusion in the industry. “I still see bias in the industry,” she said. “Now there’s a public discourse about it, people can call it out and see the results.”
Rae is leading by example by implementing a mandate on all her projects: 60% of all crew members on set must be of diverse backgrounds. It’s also not the first time she’s challenging bias in the industry – in 2014 she launched ColorCreative, a management company meant to support diverse creators and produce inclusive content.
Looking back on her career, Rae said she’s most proud of “making a pipeline [and] having people rise in the industry.”
Spotify Takes Audio Beyond Music
In less than four years, they went from having just a few podcasts to becoming a global leader in the market. Lee Brown, Spotify’s Global Head of Advertising Business & Platform said that “creators are the backbone of [this] business,” which is why it’s so important to support them.
Spotify also hosted panel discussions with some of their top talent including the “Batman Unburied” voice actors Winston Duke and Hasan Minhaj, who discussed the adaptation and their experience creating the audio-only series.
Spotify’s made it clear that podcasting is a priority, and the company’s eager to reach 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 kinds of podcasts to enjoy, Spotify attracts a wide variety of listeners – 32.5 million monthly listeners in the United States, and that number’s only going up.
YouTube Shared Latest Trends in Creator Economy
In her keynote, YouTube & Video Global Solutions VP Debbie Weinstein spoke about how YouTube paid their creators 30 billion dollars in the past three year, which is 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 answer to TikTok. She cited that there are over 30 billion Shorts views everyday and 1.5 billion active Shorts users. While this format is becoming more popular among Gen Z, viewers still haven’t abandoned 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 on a show or movie they just watched – meaning the two formats actually complement each other instead of competing.
Following Weinstein, YouTube’s Global Director of Culture & Trends Kevin Allocca presented a fascinating keynote on the latest trends and insights across the platform. He spoke about several growing content genres, including:
- “Comfort Creators”: Alloca said 83% of Gen Z used YouTube to watch soothing content that helps them relax. As a result, formats like ASMR continue to evolve as viewers look to creators to help them feel “comfort” and lower anxiety.
- “Community Creativity”: Creators are turning niche interests into shared experiences. A great example is Big Jet TV which drew in nearly 250,000 viewers to watch creator Jerry Dyer’s coverage of planes navigating Storm Eunice as they landed at Heathrow airport.
- “Multi-format Creativity”: Allocca elaborated on Weinstein’s earlier point about how creators are using Shorts and long-form content to complement each other.
Allocca later spoke with creator Mark Rober about his journey on YouTube throughout the past decade, as they reminisced on the changing landscape and how to best navigate it. The two concluded by saying their best advice to creators is to focus on building dialogues, experimenting with formats, and responding to the needs of their audience.
With all that happened at Cannes Lions this year, there were undoubtedly moments that I missed so feel free to comment below if you were there and had any other takeaways or learnings to share.