The 2017 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity approacheth. With the boondoggle looming in just a few weeks, it's not too soon to start planning your attack.
Ad Age sat down with Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions parent Ascential Events since last August and chief executive of Lions Festivals for 10 years before that, to find out what to look for this June.
1. Chinese invasion: Thomas said Chinese tech titans Tencent, which developed the WeChat social media platform (850 million users), and Alibaba, the e-commerce group, are putting on "big activations" and sponsorships this year. Tencent, he said, also built a platform that allows people to buy their festival passes in China through WeChat. "The Chinese have always entered and sent people, but they've been under the radar and this is the first time they're really interested in taking a bigger position," he said.
2. May we entertain you? Cannes launched the Entertainment Lions in 2016, and while it all was "fine," Thomas said, this year entertainment companies are showing up in a major way, from looking at speaking opportunities, sponsorships or just sending delegates. Some of the companies to look out for: Fox, Aardman, BBC, Activision, CNN, HBO, Turner, Spotify, Universal Music, Viacom, Warner Music, Paramount and Disney.
3. Consultants rising: Perhaps unsurprisingly given their moves into marketing services, consultancies' presence will be huge. PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, Accenture and McKinsey had "been playing around the edges a bit," Thomas said, but now they're "much, much more interested." Accenture and McKinsey in particular have looked to do more, including sponsorships, events, speaking and even entering for awards, he said. "I think they want to win Lions."
4. Philip's Choice: While Cannes has never completely eradicated a category, it has culled subcategories. In fact, Thomas said the festival "cut about 100" this year. Does this mean it'll never get rid of a category? "We'd love to kill a Lion because it'd be quite bold and it'd be interesting to say this is where the future is going," he said. But it's just too hard to choose which baby to ax.
5. Coming in 2018—MAYBE: Cannes is thinking about some new category options for 2018. Potential subject areas: gaming (Tencent is the largest videogame maker in the world, for what it's worth), sports and b-to-b.