The Backstage Pass to Cannes Lions: Key takeaways from a global marketing director

Rachel Fang
By Rachel Fang | 10 July 2024
Rachel Fang.

Ah, Cannes Lions, where creativity, innovation, and a touch of glamour collide, creating a whirlwind of excitement in the advertising world.

Our recent trip to the iconic festival was a rollercoaster of networking, learning, and of course, a little bit of fun in the sun. As we soaked up the atmosphere and rubbed shoulders with industry giants, one thing became abundantly clear - the landscape of Cannes is evolving. Gone are the days of solely celebrating creativity; now, it's all about the rise of ad tech, commerce, content creators, and conversations on AI. And let us tell you, it's a wild ride.

A quote from Joshua Lowcock, President of Media at Quad, similarly reflects this. He said the nature of the conference has changed and the people with influence and power in the industry are changing.

Here are my takeaways from Cannes Lions 2024.

When Gen Z Met Gen X and Decided Maybe They’re Not So Different

AdWeek’s "Trends of the New Consumer" session was an eye-opener, not just because of the free martinis. We were treated to a fiery debate that essentially concluded: hey, maybe Gen Z and the previous generations are cut from the same cloth, just stitched with different threads. Julia Goldin, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at LEGO, Andrea Mallard, Global Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Pinterest and Jerri DeVard, CEO at Black Executive CMO Alliance, the trio of marketing maestros, led us through this epiphany, arguing that it's less about the generational tags we wear and more about the stages of life we're pirouetting through, heavily influenced by the digital tools and gizmos at our disposal.

Whether it's your nan figuring out how to order groceries online or your teenage cousin scrolling through TikTok shop, technology levels the playing field, and perhaps we're all dancing to the beat of a similar drum, albeit in different shoes.

Sailing the High Seas of Commerce Media

Hoist the sails because all eyes were on the horizon of Commerce Media this year. Aboard Criteo's Commercetopia yacht, which might as well have been the Black Pearl for all the mystique and allure it commanded, was where we gained insights from Luc Bondar (COO & President at United Airlines Mileage Plus) on their revolutionary overhaul of United Airlines’ advertising network, transforming their in-flight screens into a Commerce Media utopia.

Amazon, flexing its muscles on La Croisette, showed us all the monumental scale of what ad tech and commerce media can achieve. Their A’ Maison was not just a display; it was a statement – a declaration of the changing tides in our industry.

Then you had the likes of The Trade Desk, Teads, Klaviyo and a treasure trove of other companies, each bringing their unique compass to navigate these uncharted waters with customer-first strategies, innovative ad solutions, and personalised, impactful advertising in a digital world.

Avengers of Advertising Assembled

VideoWeek hosted a premiere panel discussion on the boundless potential of content commerce, painting a future where every content and ad could be a shopping aisle.

The panel featuring a lineup of industry luminaries including Soumya Sriraman (Tech, Media, and Commerce Leader at Qurate Retail Group and ex-Amazon and BBC), Chris Ziemer (Global Industry Specialist Leader, Monetization, Media, Entertainment, Games, and Sports at Amazon Web Services), Paul Blackburn (Director of Commercial Data, Video & Product at News Corp Australia), and our very own Nick Morgan, it felt like we were assembling a new ecommerce-enabled world of the Avengers of advertising.

Discussions zipped from the transformative power of creating digital storefronts everywhere on the web to the exciting possibilities AI brings to the table. It wasn't just talk; it was a combination of News Corp’s more than century-old content expertise, Amazon’s modern-day technology and understanding that video will continue to transform not only socialising on digital platforms but also how we shop and purchase products. It’s a clarion call for the industry to gear up for a revolution where content doesn't just engage—it allows consumers to shop at the point of inspiration. Content commerce is one step closer to making shopping directly from TV a reality.

No podiums were harmed in the making of this discussion, but we reckon a few minds were blown.

What about Cannes Lions 2025?

After a year that saw ad tech titans rub elbows with creative Jedis, we're left wondering, "What's next?". If this year was a rocket, next year's going to be a whole flippin' lunar mission.

Commerce media, the darling of Cannes 2024, is expected to strut its stuff even more boldly, weaving its way through every conversation. We're envisaging a bonanza where CTV, Retail Media and Commerce Media won’t just be buzzwords but the belle of the ball.

Cannes Lions 2025 is set to be a whirlwind of innovation, where the only thing we can expect for certain is to be pleasantly surprised. After all, who doesn't love a good surprise?

Rachel Fang, Global Marketing Director, Vudoo

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