Cannes Lions, what a trip! One week of talks, meeting partners & clients, networking and discussing the biggest trends in advertising, creative and tech. This was my first time to Cannes Lions, and during the week, along with our CEO Itamar Benedy, VP of Corporate Development Selina Priestman, and our Senior Strategy Manager Cindy Oran, we set out  to gain insight into how brands, agencies and tech companies integrate creativity into their core business model.

Before I delve in too deep, I’ll give you a little background: Cannes Lions is the largest creative festival in the world. It takes on an incredibly global approach, with business and creative leaders from around the world on-site. The festival itself has changed things up a bit in terms of format, allowing for a very strong lineup this year. 

Beyond the actual conference, there was no shortage of off-site activities, like the Female Quotient’s Girl’s Lounge at the beautiful Hôtel Martinez Penthouse, a colorful Google Beach including the annual Friday Pride Party, as well as the Facebook beach with an installation by artist and stage designer Es Devlin!

The overarching topic we tried to follow was around how to tackle current changes in branding and how companies can make sure they’re speaking to their consumer base.

Here are the key trends and insights we gathered:


Get ready for new and shifting consumer groups

While it’s no surprise that as the world only continues to become more interconnected, we are now seeing a large shift in the way marketers and agencies are looking at their key demographics:

Andrea Bell, Director of Consumer Insight and Executive Editor, Americas at WGSN explained that current minorities will no longer remain minorities, and current majorities will vanish altogether. She shared how Muslim millennials will be among the largest consumer group. And that by 2050, there will be 2.8 billion of them, spending approximately 327 billion USD in the United States alone.


This shift in the way we think about “mass appeal” will push us to tap into untouched sectors. They are also seeing this with Quinceaneras, the traditional Mexican celebration for a young woman’s sweet sixteen. It’s a multi-million dollar market that is still untouched and not marketed to.

Additionally – and to no surprise to any of us that have seen someone on a smartphone –  mobile commerce will see a continuous increase. In France, it is projected that there will be 250 billion USD in projected sales via mobile by 2020. And in Australia, the roll out of the 5G network from 2019 onward is projected to unlock a local economy growth by 3 trillion USD in the land down under.

So how do companies ensure they are unlocking the potential of these groups? Instead of diving head first into extensive market research, start by checking if you’re using the right tools to really understand the market and your focus group.

Steve Huffman, Co-founder of Reddit, pointed out that while the platform started as just a “pile of [news] links”, it has quickly become one of the leading platforms for conversing and understanding what communities of people think. In many cases, it gives a more accurate representation of what’s going on than other sources like the news or social networks. The nature of the platform helps you see what different demographics of consumers are talking about in a focus group format.



Another tool is, which gives you real time information on the ‘most searched for’ hashtags around the world. It was how Burger King’s Agency, David Miami, saw that “Net Neutrality” was the most searched for term at that time, and started the thought process for their subsequent campaign, utilizing the whopper to explain Net Neutrality.


Rethink your brand image

It’s been known for quite some time that there is a big shift in the way that consumers think about brand loyalty, with millennials making it clear that they really want to support brands that focus on corporate social responsibility initiatives. But it’s not only having a good brand that’s important, it’s maintaining authenticity. Future successful brands will have to show meaning behind their image while keeping it real.

During his talk, Glossier’s President & COO Henry Davis explained that our hyper-saturated markets aren’t serving customers; they’ve become inefficient and out of touch:

“Brands should take actionthey should take that action with their consumers and own this relationship. It’s more important than ever to stand for something. It’s about mattering vs. marketing.”



It’s true that for consumers, there has been a shift from focusing on discounts  to thinking about values. We saw this recently with Patagonia and their Patagonia Action Works campaign.

Andrea Bell, from WGSN made it clear that Localvists—a term used to describe those that were to engage and think with an activist mindset on a local scale—will  also become an increasingly powerful consumer group. In the United states, there has been more women, minorities, and members of the LGBTQA+ community run for office than ever; over 1 million British youth have registered to vote since Brexit; and in China, the donations to NGOs have quadrupled.


It’s time for disruption!

It’s clear hacking isn’t just for Mr. Robot anymore! We saw an overlying theme with several agencies pushing through the noise of their competition by finding unique ways to speak to their audience. We also saw that new agency models will build up on collaboration and partnering closely with businesses rather than simply “purchasing” a campaign or company and integrating it.

When the agency David Miami took on the Burger King project, they looked at ways to generate buzz even though it had little to do with their core product—becoming a hacker in their own field. A key lesson from their talk: don’t worry about scale, it comes naturally. With Burger King, they focused more on creating something powerful with, amongst others, the Net Neutrality campaign, and it organically generated the business a total of 30 bn impressions and 400 Million USD in earned media by disrupting the market and what was expected as the status quo.



Global Director of Intel’s Agency Inside, Yogiraj Graham, talked about how they went from a brand that is simply pointing out single products, to being one that creates experiences. Having their designated in-house creative agency question traditional patterns as part of their mission to go beyond working off briefings has allowed them to fully immerse themselves in the company (instead of feeling like a separate, stand-alone arm). This clearly benefited the outcome and effectiveness, not only of their creative, but also of their brand image.



However it’s important to know: before all of this can be done, you need to confront your weaknesses. We saw a prime example of this with KFC. After 28 years in the market, they saw that they were becoming stagnant and irrelevant in China’s market. They came to the conclusion that change needed to be made, and in 2015 they started the process of understanding their largest future demographic: Chinese Millennials. They spent 2.5 years on becoming the most influential restaurant brand in China. With their disruptive approach and by rolling out technologies relevant to their demographic, they went from zero to 120 million loyalty consumers, and released an app with 200 million downloads in the first 6 months.


Data & creative become companions

It became increasingly clear that the partnership between data and creative is going to be the hallmark of success for companies in the future. Whether thinking about content or design, companies that spend more time measuring what is workingbut also what’s not and why—will have the upper hand on those who don’t.

Visa’s Senior Vice President of Global Marketing, Kimberly Kadlec, shared how they had successfully taken this approach. She changed the way her teams were briefing their creative projects, making the primary goal behaviour change. She explained how creating smart and modular assets that were responsive to intercultural aspects of their brand presence allowed them to more effectively reach their multiple markets and consumer groups.



Glossier’s President & COO Henry Davis, for example, also worked with his team to listen to voices from loyal customers to create exactly the products the market needed, which is clear when looking at their successful sales and brand perception. Creativity was part of their first steps, rather than the last mile.



Even before leaving for Cannes, we knew that diversity would be an important theme over the week. As a company with 9 global offices and almost 50 nationaliities, understanding more about how to leverage the diversity within our team was something we were looking forward to gathering deeper insights on.

Without a doubt, successful companies do rely on diversity in the workplace, but the ask needs to be for men and women to work together on this as it’s also in men’s interest to create equality.

CEO and founder of Seattle’s female co-working space The Riveter, Amy Nelson (left in below image), noted that in the US, there are more CEOs named John than there are women CEO’s. She is hoping to change that by creating more places where women feel empowered to support one another in entrepreneurial and creative ventures. Clearly there is a market for this, as they just opened their second space in Los Angeles.



And just recently, WWE’s Stephanie McMahon changed their female wrestlers image to be the same as their male wrestlers, so they are now all known as Superstars. This caused the matches to include both genders and for female matches to become much more common. While there was initially fear of backlash in more conservative parts of the world, the opposite happened. This past December, the audience at an Abu Dhabi match started chanting ‘This is hope’, many with tears in their eyes.



So how can companies do more to promote diversity? Transparency is the key word: people are increasingly looking at companies to follow practices that show diversity and inclusion are a priority. “The companies that aren’t able to give that to their employees will lose the best talent”, says Chloe Gottlieb, soon to be UX Director at Google.

Most importantly, it needs to be made an active priority as part of your companies goals. Whether that means including it in the mission, as the Riveter has done, or creating initiatives to show and appreciate the diversity of your employees and consumers.


Thank you Cannes Lions!

It’s safe to say this was an unforgettable week—from the talks to the yachts, we all left feeling inspired by Cannes. We’re already looking forward to next year! If you want to get a snapshot to our journey, check out our Instastories and peek through all of the pictures below. Thanks for reading!