Cannes Lions 2023

Last week I was in Cannes at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. A week where the marketing and creative industries gather for conversations, learning and business development, as well as awarding the best creativity in marketing and advertising.

It is the sheer scale of the festival that is mind-boggling. As well as taking over Le Palais Du Festival, which is on the front at Cannes, large media brands, consultancies, and others take over various establishments that are on the beach and elsewhere (TikTok and LinkedIn were in the Carlton Hotel), and use them for their own purposes for a week. With a general admission ticket, you can enter all venues (except Spotify!), listen to their speakers and enjoy their hospitality.  

The conversations and lectures were broad and mixed. Artificial Intelligence and its impact on marketing, media and creativity were hot topics, as were the transition to circular economies, sustainability and, to a lesser degree, diversity in the industry. Equally, seeing the creative work of agencies from around the world and some of the ideas generated was really interesting.

The investment the brands and agencies made for the week in Cannes is immense. Not just in terms of the cost of the ticket, taking over venues and branding them but flying in (in some instances) literally hundreds of employees. Cannes Lions attracts the biggest names in the industry but also other well-known people, actors, singers, and even football managers!

Having worked in recruitment for the marketing and advertising industry for over 30 years, to actually experience this event first-hand was at times overwhelming, but ultimately it was the opportunity to hear about topics from thought leaders and experts in their field first-hand.

Cannes itself is an “if you’ve got it, flaunt it” city. I saw some of the (literally) palaces people own on the outskirts, the superyachts in the port. It oozes wealth but, at the same time beautiful.

I was exhausted after the week, and I suspect those doing the hard work were even more tired than me, but it was well worth it, and I would recommend anyone in the marketing or advertising industry to go at least once. Finally, it’s clear the marketing and advertising industry is thriving, is global and that the best creativity is not necessarily just from London or New York but universal.