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Will AI re-write creativity? Here's what to expect from Cannes Lions 2023

Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2023 is set to begin on June 19.
Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2023 is set to begin on June 19. Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Damon Embling
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The business world is preparing to descend on the French Riviera for Cannes Lions 2023, where artificial intelligence is set to top the agenda.

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With ChatGPT already rewriting the storybook when it comes to content, what does the deepening deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) and other disruptive technology mean for the creative communications business?

For brands, advertisers, marketers, and media coming together at this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on the sun-drenched French Riviera, it’s set to be the hot topic of conversation.

Ahead of the event’s 70th edition, we caught up with its CEO, Simon Cook, to get the lowdown on this annual pow-wow of creative minds.

'Creativity can come from anywhere'

"This is a really exciting year for us. In 2023, it’s about looking forward to the next 70 years: supporting those 'in the making' and using creativity to drive progress," Cook told Euronews Next.

"Today, creativity can come from anywhere. We’re not just talking about creativity that lives in communication, at Cannes Lions we have awards now that are recognising the creativity that exists in areas like business transformation, commerce, and gaming.

"It’s across a range of really interesting places and that means creativity is permeating everything in a really positive way".

AI: A creativity killer?

AI is fast becoming a household name, with the much-talked-about ChatGPT making waves around the globe.

While some creatives welcome the growing use of AI in the communication business, others fear it's a creature hungry to gobble them up for dinner.

This year’s Cannes Lions comes hot on the heels of the European Parliament endorsing the world’s first set of comprehensive rules for AI, as the EU races to regulate and get a grip on its rapid and expanding use.

"I think it’s safe to say the debate around the role of AI in our industry will dominate the stages at Cannes Lions this year," explained Cook.

"Google’s Senior Vice President of technology and society, James Manyika, is going to be talking about how AI is helping to solve the world’s biggest problems and what’s coming next.

"In separate sessions, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, and Axel Springer will both be looking at ChatGPT".

Another 'palette in the paint pot'

According to the State of Creativity Study 2023, released by Cannes Lions, 65 per cent of brands and agencies cite AI as the most important tech trend this year.

By 2025, 10 per cent of all data produced, and 30 per cent of all outbound marketing messages from large brands will be from generative AI, according to data from the tech research and consulting company Gartner.

It’s a type of AI that can create text, images, or other media content by responding to prompts.

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"I remember about 10 years ago the stages of Cannes Lions were dominated by talk around big data and the threat it posed for our industry. We don’t hear about big data today because it’s become invisible," Cook highlighted.

"Overall, I think AI will eventually become an invisible part of our ecosystem. It will just serve as another palette in the creativity paint pot. But the journey to get to that point will be very interesting".

Virtual influencers: Say hello to Rae

Virtual influencers, and computer-generated characters, are nothing new in the communications and marketing business, but Cannes Lions will welcome one to the stage for the first time ever this year.

Rae is one of the biggest virtual names to come out of Asia, amassing a fanbase of over one million across Instagram and Weibo since debuting in 2019.

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"As a virtual human who effortlessly treads the lines between fantasy, technology, and reality, she offers a unique perspective through her collaboration with cult labels, musicians, fashion designers, and global brands," Cook told Euronews Next.

But virtual influencers are not everyone’s cup of tea.

Italian tourism officials thought they were onto a winner earlier this year when they came up with a digital version of Venus, the goddess of love, to entice visitors to the country.

But critics described her as a "new Barbie" who destroyed Italy’s cultural heritage.

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Consumer expectations 'very high'

More sophisticated and intelligent tech may make virtual influencers more difficult for consumers to spot what’s real and what’s not in the future.

In a world driven by data and tainted by misinformation, there’s growing awareness around privacy and fact-checking.

But, as the creative minds gather in Cannes, Cook says the industry now has consumers who are more confident in sharing data in return for some services.

"Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly and I think expectations are very high. We’re also seeing a very savvy customer. I think it’s interesting to see customers get comfortable with giving up their data in exchange for hyper personalisation and sophisticated targeting," he explained.

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"Agency models will continue to shift and they’ll have to be asking themselves whether they have the right conditions in place for success".

Proving the value of creativity

Today’s global uncertainties weigh heavy on most sectors. Those attending this year’s Cannes Lions, they’re facing an uphill challenge of proving their creative worth.

"The significant focus on effectiveness at this year’s Festival reflects the extreme pressure on marketing budgets," said Cook.

"The brands that are embedding a culture of creativity and showing an ongoing commitment to creativity as a driver for growth, are the brands that are seeing continued success. It’s about sustained creativity that drives sustainable growth".

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  • Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2023 runs June 19-23.
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