Three days, three nights, more than 50 miles walked, over a 100 people from the global ad industry talked to, a few glasses of rose, amazing food consumed, new contacts made, inspired conversations and new ideas hatched in both the sun and the rain – the latter of which was a new experience – meant one thing, the Cannes Lions Festival was back in the live world.
After a three-year hiatus from the live space the biggest event in the ad industry didn’t disappoint with everyone from Ryan Reynolds, Fatboy Slim, Duo Lipa, Nas, Kendrick Lamar and Kylie all gracing the event.
However, away from the celebrity appearances there was some inspiring content – at any one time there were at least 20-30 live discussions happening across various platforms, and that was just outside of the main conference area – important business conversations and new and old relationships being forged or strengthened.
As was happening before the pandemic the might and spending power of adtech was clear to see with the likes of Google, Twitter, Spotify, Meta, Freewheel, Microsoft, Pinterest, Amazon, Yahoo, Teads and Taboola dominating the beach front and the harbour areas with fantastic spaces, temporary meeting rooms, stages, an array of food and drink and lots of happy vibes. It was clear the visitors and exhibitors were determined to make up for lost time, but what was different than previous Cannes was the majority of those attending had an agenda of learning and nurturing new business, which was refreshing to see and made every accidental meeting, or conversation so much more valuable. In previous year there was always a large majority who had seen the event as a kind of ‘work holiday’ and it’s easy to see the allure of that, but this year those people were very much in the minority and this could well be a watershed moment for the event going forwards. Everyone seemed to pack in as many conversations as humanly possible in a period of two to three days with Tuesday and Wednesday being the busiest days of the week.
In fact, it was the unplanned conversations or introductions that were the most valuable. It’s always a hard event to explain to colleagues who don’t attend, friends and loved ones, but genuinely some of the most rewarding connections tended to happen over a dinner, or glass of rose, when everyone is feeling relaxed and completely authentic, or at an event with like-minded people. Importantly it was wonderful to see live human connection again and everyone was open to this.
Yes, there was lots of fun to be had alongside a lot of walking, talking, and sharing of ideas, but the opportunity to properly discuss current issues from D&I to climate change and how the industry can do more to help foster positive societal change was a clear theme, alongside the new marketing tools and ideas that are key to successful media and marketing campaigns.
It really was an educational and inspiring experience, roll on 2023 and well done Cannes Lions.