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Cannes Lions: What can we expect from this year's Festival of Creativity?

Cannes Lions 2024 will take place 17 - 21 June
Cannes Lions 2024 will take place 17 - 21 June Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Damon Embling
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The global advertising and communications business is descending on the French Riviera to thrash out the future of creativity at Cannes Lions 2024.

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Hit the coast of Cannes this week, and you won’t just see holidaymakers sunning themselves on the golden sands, you’ll also find a throng of creatives and communicators filling the Boulevard de la Croisette.

This year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is set to welcome thousands of industry representatives. Inspiring them will be 500 speakers, ranging from monks to the CEO of Mattel, of Barbie fame.

But brands, advertisers, marketers and media come together in 2024 amid continuing geopolitical and economic uncertainties, combined with rapidly changing consumer behaviours.

Euronews Business caught up with Cannes Lions CEO, Simon Cook, to get the lowdown on this 71st edition.

What next for disruptive tech?

Artificial intelligence (AI) and generative AI were the talk of the town at Cannes Lions last year, in the wake of ChatGPT rewriting the storybook.

This year, discussions are set to be dominated about how they’re being embedded in the creative industry, alongside other digital and technological advances. Is AI proving to be a creative-killer or a new world of opportunity?

Representatives from Google will be among the high-profile speakers taking to the stage, mapping out how engineers and creatives will make it more helpful for brands and agencies.

For the first time ever, organisers of the Cannes Lions Awards have also introduced an ‘AI disclaimer,’ to establish whether entrants have used it in their work.

“We want to understand how AI is being used by the industry. Specifically, how are the creatives using it?,” Cook told Euronews Business.

“That way, we can begin to build a picture, so that we can create that space to learn more as a community, on a global level.”

Connecting with savvy consumers

Those attending this year’s Festival will also be grappling with how to meet the demands of increasingly savvy consumers who, according to Cook, are “rapidly changing” their behaviours.

“They know what they want, how they want it, and are becoming very comfortable with the value exchange,” he said.

These days, there’s pressure on companies to not only satisfy customer demands, but also to anticipate them.

Hyper-personalisation is a trend that’s bedding in, with content being developed that taps directly into specific interests and needs of consumers, in the hope of winning them over.

“I think it’s interesting to see customers get comfortable with giving up their data in exchange for hyper-personalisation and sophisticated targeting,” Cook highlighted.

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Luxury: the Gen Z and Gen Alpha effect

The luxury market is one that’s faced significant disruption in recent, post-pandemic years.

It’s had to innovate at speed, including a shift to e-commerce, amid heightened expectations around sustainability and conscious consumption.

This year, new Luxury and Lifestyle Lions have been added to the line-up of awards, to recognise creativity and business solutions in the sector.

“Once a one-way market based on exclusivity, the new-look luxury sector sees knowledge, access and community take centre stage,” explained Cook.

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“That’s because Gen Z and Gen Alpha will account for 80% of luxury purchases by 2030, according to Bain & Company, with Gen Z already buying luxury items some three to five years earlier than Millennials.”  

An uncertain global context

As geopolitical and economic challenges continue, shifts and trends are expected to emerge during the creative conversations at this year’s Festival, but Cook cites a cause for optimism.

“The findings in our State of Creativity Study showed that 51% of brand and agency respondents said they anticipate stronger growth this year. So, among the economic uncertainties, I think there are indicators that progress is being made and that creativity can be used as a lever to drive this,” he said.  

But the same study also revealed tensions within the industry, with client-agency relationships under strain and frustrated marketers pointing fingers at ‘play-it-safe’ leadership.

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“Tensions need to be worked through if we’re going to realise the potential of creativity as a growth driver,” Cook highlighted.  

Driving up equity and representation

In a bid to boost access for underrepresented and underserved communities, Cannes Lions’ organisers are providing over €1.5m worth of free passes. Priority is being given to registered charities, not-for-profit and diverse-owned organisations.

“It’s about driving equity and increasing accessibility so that everyone in the global creative community has the opportunity to attend and benefit,” Cook told Euronews Business.  

“We know that the more lived experiences, perspectives and voices that we can bring to the Festival, the more our community and industry can grow and progress.”

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This year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity takes place 17-21 June.

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