The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been gaining traction with CMOs for several years with the lure of dazzling creativity and corresponding impressive results – a heady brew for marketers looking to up their game in today’s swirling environment.
This year will be no different; a quick scan of the program shows a record number of CMOs and other senior marketers speaking to a myriad of issues and opportunities affecting the business and creativity of marketing. And with the Festival less than six weeks away - running from June 17 to June 21 - it's time to start planning.
At least 50 heads of marketing and another handful of related senior executives from marketing ranks will speak across a range of nine content “tracks” to “provide a forward-facing overview of what the industry will look like over the coming year and beyond”. Each track has an ambassador to help steer and curate the content. Tracks include: research, communication, craft, experience, innovation, impact, good, health and entertainment.
Regardless of trying to instil some sense focus across the wide-ranging content, with over 300 talks, seminars and workshops it’s still next to impossible to choose which presentations to attend. And if you’re not able to make it to Cannes, the organizers have created a way to bring Cannes to you so you can still access the cornucopia of content. Digital passes, which provide main stage talks, insights behind the award-winning work and exclusive interviews are available online. If you’re still deciding on whether to go in person, be aware that the CMO Accelerator Pass is already sold out, such is the demand by senior marketers, but other “Complete” passes are still available.
Aside from the formal tracks, some interesting subjects are emerging this year. “Activism” appears in the title of a handful of talks, as does “in-housing,” “audio branding” and “blockchain.” “Purpose” continues to be a perennial favorite, though the definition continues to be confused and confusing. “Diversity” and “gender equality” have become core subject matter.
Of course an underlying thread across all of the content is creativity, and the organizers are quick to point to a broadening definition of creativity reflected by the new breed of work in new award categories. “We firmly believe that creativity is a force for business, for change and for good in the world,” says Simon Cook, Managing Director of the Cannes Lions. Each year the organizers publish a Global Creativity Report which, aside from detailing the previous year’s winners, provides the business case for creativity in the form of charts depicting share price growth of the more creative companies.
While it’s impossible to provide a full list of marketers speaking at Cannes for this post, here are a few highlights to seek out in chronological order.
A great start to any day during the week is the “Wake Up With The Economist” sessions on the Cannes Lions Beach at 10:30 a.m. In its fifth year, this year's week kicks off with Syl Saller, CMO of Diageo and Diego Scotti, CMO of Verizon Communications. A third speaker is likely to be announced closer to the time.
Solid CMO fare which continues through the day includes:
12:30 p.m. – “Future is Female: Women and the Direct to Consumer Economy” with Kelly Campbell, CMO of Hulu; Deirdre Findlay, CMO of Stitch Fix; and Kerry Washington, actor, director, producer and activist.
2:45 p.m. – “Welcome to a Brandless World” with Aaron Magness, CMO of Brandless (is this an oxymoron?)
3:00 p.m. – “How to Make Healthcare Irresistible for the Masses” with Atilla Cansun, CMO of P&G Health.
5:00 p.m. – “The Next Frontier of Sound and Sense Branding” with Lynne Biggar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Visa.
Overlapping a bit but potentially worth a quick trot back to the Palais is the session at 11:15 a.m. – “Beyond Brand Purpose: The Future of Brand Activism” with Jessie Macnell-Brown, Global Head of Activism at The Body Shop; and Pascal Van Ham, Head of Marketing for Tony’s Chocolonely.
Followed by: 2:45 p.m. – “Marketing Transformation & the Quest for Multisensory Brand Reinvention” with Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Mastercard.
3:30 p.m. – “Fast, Cheap AND Great: Breaking the Laws of Marketing Physics” with Brad Hiranaga, Chief Brand Officer of North America for General Mills.
4:15 p.m. – “Power to the People! The blinding effect of 'consumer' marketing” with Marcel Marcondes, CMO of Anheuser-Busch.
Speakers have yet to be announced for the “Wake Up” series but meanwhile, in the absence of a new CMO, the new CEO at the helm of Unilever, Alan Jope, will take one of the main stages at 11 a.m. for a presentation entitled “Creativity Can Help Save the Walruses.” Get there early as there’s likely to be a bumper crowd looking to attend.
More CMOs on stage:
12:00 noon – “Sh*t Marketers Say” will feature Burger King, which was named Cannes Lions’ Marketer of the Year in 2017. Fernando Machado, Global CMO, and Marcelo Pascoa, Head of Global Marketing, will speak together.
3:00 p.m. – “The Reimagined Consumer Experience” with Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of P&G.
4:15 p.m. – “Human-to-Human Marketing in a World of Technology” with Elizabeth Rutledge, CMO of American Express.
The “Wake Up” session leads at 10:30 a.m. with Marc Pritchard and others to be announced.
Thursday features a number of speakers from the sports world sprinkled with some other playful brands.
2:00 p.m. – “The 50+ Goldmine: Sparking Creativity’s Coming of Age” with Bozoma St John, CMO of Endeavor.
Also at 2:00 p.m. – “Building Brand Love with Purpose, Brick by Brick” with Julia Goldin, Global CMO of the LEGO Group.
3:00 p.m. – “Binge or Bust: The Future of Entertainment” with entertainer Jeff Goldblum.
Also at 3:00 p.m. – “The Ultimate Brand Activation for ‘The Unreachables’ is with Esports” with Rodrigo Samwell, Global CMO of ESL.
4:15 p.m. – Modern Brand Building: The NFL Players & League” with Tim Ellis, CMO of the NFL.
5:30 p.m. – “Revitalizing an Aging Brand: F1 – the 68-yeear-old Startup” with Ellie Norman, Director of Marketing for Formula 1.
The dilemma Friday morning is whether to attend the presentation with the President of Colombia, Ivan Duque, on “The Orange Economy: How Ideas Are the New Oil,” or visit the Cannes Lions Beach for the final installment in the “Wake Up” series which will feature John Veichmanis, CMO of Farfetch with others to be announced.
The entertainment continues:
12:45 p.m. – “How adidas is Maximising Digital While Articulating Culture” with Swave Szymczyk, Global Director of Digital and Retail Marketing for adidas.
2:00 p.m. – Tor Myhren, VP of Marketing Communications for Apple, will take to the stage to present “Simple is Hard”
3:15 p.m. – Last by no means least “The Road to Cannabis Normalcy: From Counterculture to Culture” with David Dancer, CMO of MedMen.
This is but a small slice of the choices available. The shorter length of the presentations relative to previous years generally means that you’ll be moving around frequently, but don’t underestimate the lines that will form for the really covetable sessions. With over 16,000 delegates from nearly 5,000 companies, competition for some of the sessions can get fierce.
The full list of speakers is available here.
Don’t forget to dive into the winning creative work that builds up on exhibit in the lower level of the Palais following the awards ceremonies each evening.
As always, there will be a flurry of fringe events hosted by the many media companies, agencies and consulting firms that flock to Cannes, and the CMO Growth Council will celebrate its second year. Launched in 2018 in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), this ongoing effort pivots between the Cannes Lions and the annual ANA Masters of Marketing conference held in October.
According to Ascential Events (parent to the Festival) CEO and Chairman of Cannes Lions Philip Thomas, “Cannes Lions champions the clear correlation between creativity and business success, and for nearly two decades the world’s biggest marketers have used the Festival as an opportunity to see what great creative looks like, and learn more about the people behind the greatest work in the world.”
Originally published on the Forbes website