Predicting the conversation: Cannes Lions 2018

The 65th Cannes Lions ‘Festival of Creativity’ gets underway next week following a watershed reinvention of the conference making it far more inclusive and affordable. With over 16,000 people heading to the South of France to take in 360 hours of content and 40,000+ exhibits, I took some time to review the extensive programme and predict the key themes for this year’s festival.

See It Be It and #MoreLikeMe

One of the key initiatives this year is ‘See It Be It’ which addresses the gender imbalance in senior creative leadership by promoting greater diversity and representation through extensive training, mentoring and networking opportunities. As stated in the session description for Tuesday’s Diversity session hosted by HP and Omnicom Group’s Tiffany R. Warren, “The facts are in. Diversity is good for business. It enhances creative output and ensures we speak to our customers with relevance”. As the industry fights to remain shapers of culture and society it’ll be interesting to see how brands and agencies alike move beyond theory and talk and discuss talking action. Some pundits have even described it as the year of the Cannes Lioness.

In addition, the Lions has also introduced #MoreLikeMe to champion diverse creative talent which builds on HP’s marketing Diversity Scorecard to support its agencies in their journey of encouraging more culturally representative creative talent and teams. The program has selected 15, racially and ethnically diverse, rising stars to Cannes for an immersive experience including mentoring, networking and curated programming. This year will also see the introduction of a two-day Hackathon entitled ‘Change for Good’ in conjunction with Amazon and international advocacy platform Global Citizen. The Lions have invited crack creative talent from around the World to tackle six briefs including topics such as Poverty, Food & Hunger, Health, Education, Gender Equality and Clean Water and Sanitation.

Celebrating creativity

However amongst all the changes the primary purpose of the Lions has not changed; celebrating creativity in all its forms whilst educating, stimulating and inspiring  the communications industry. And in order to communicate those messages with some style, a glittering array of star presenters such as Sir David Attenborough, Kevin Costner, Thandie Newton, David Schwimmer, Paloma Faith, Tyler Perry and Johnny Marr have been enlisted. Having attended quite a few of these over the years, seeing an eclectic mix of stars; everyone from Iggy Pop to Kim Kardashian, Halle Berry to Ben Stiller and Bono to Will Smith the vast majority of these sessions are superb and offer genuine insight into how different people perceive creativity in all of its many guises.

Aside from the  draw of A-listers on the mainstage Cannes Lions also offers five days of talks, workshops and networking events. Reviewing the full agenda key themes are clearly emerging. Discussions around what clients, agencies and partners need to do to keep raising the bar on creativity and ultimately grow, are ripe, with P&G, L’Oreal and Samsung all taking to the stage to explain their transformation agendas. With 50% of search being via voice by 2020 Artificial Intelligence is not just a hot topic or competitive advantage but a business necessity. During the week OMD will be joining the conversation but focusing on Artful Intelligence. Through conversations with Oath and IBM, OMD USA’s, Doug Rozen will be discussing the application of people and machines to better reach and connect with consumers. For OMD, this is Artful Intelligence. Hold tight for more details via our new OMD Cannes website.

Another must see session is Wednesday’s Apple session where they’ll share their vision on reinventing the retail experience for its devoted consumer following. Whilst having the capabilities to adapt to fast-changing customer needs and a volatile commercial landscape, have always been key to business success, the evolution of digital and eCommerce platforms has dramatically increased the opportunities to identify, address and convert the right audiences across a vast number of new biddable media and retail channels. For OMD the ability to connect the dots across business siloes and optimize the ultimate commercial outcomes is not merely an opportunity for smart growth but imperative for survival. The clear winners in 21st Century commerce are those brands who operate with agility, taking a holistic end-to-end view across their business, connecting their data, understanding and addressing their audiences, identifying new opportunities and growing revenues by making better decisions, faster.

For more sessions to either live-stream (through Cannes Lions new digital pass), or attend, we highly recommend making sure you’re front row for the below:

  1. New Tech: Creating Great Brand Experiences With Augmented Reality – On the theme of ‘Agile Commerce’, Google will talk about how Augmented Reality is set to take over shopping / gaming and how brands are quickly realising the value of this emerging immersive format.
  2. AI Will Kill Creative. AI Will Save Creative – on the subject of ‘Artful Intelligence’ this session will reignite the debate around man vs machine and AI vs creativity.
  3. The Death of OpenRTB: Blockchain Beyond The HypeOmnicom Media Group’s very own Barry Cupples is joined by MAD Network and WPP to discuss a new open-source blockchain protocol, which aims to address the issues in today’s programmatic marketplace and how the industry can make ‘Better Decisions Faster’
  4. Life on Board: Turning the Car into Media At the forefront of automotive technology Renault will discuss the future of life on board and the evolution of in-car technology, the need for new forms of entertainment and the untapped potential for communicating with and marketing to customers
  5. Five Campaigns That Shook the Advertising WorldThis exciting showcase from PepsiCo, Bacardi Martini, Lego IBM will take a deep-dive into the key entertainment verticals—including gaming, sport and music—to uncover the incredible pioneering work that has changed the rules of brand engagement forever.

For live updates during the week follow us at @OMD_Worldwide using the hashtag #OMDCANNES. For more information about OMD’s Cannes plans please contact the team at