This year’s agenda includes an Economist-moderated panel with three chief marketing officers—Nina Bibby of O2, Syl Saller of Diageo and Diego Scotti of Verizon Communications—who will explore what marketers’ top concerns are today. Hulu CMO Kelly Campbell, Stitch Fix CMO Deirdre Findlay and actor, director and activist Kerry Washington will discuss how women are driving a direct-to-consumer economy. There will, of course, be a talk on cannabis, an increasingly hot topic, called “CBD and the Marijuana Revolution: From Stigma to Serious Medicine.”
“Lorne Michaels is coming for the first time,” Kassan says. “Lorne Michaels never comes to anything related to the advertising industry,” he says of the producer and creator of “Saturday Night Live.”
“I think everyone started to think about what this festival and creativity really should look like, and that includes our clients,” Serrano says. In the end, I do think that even though it was just us who sat out, we influenced a lot of what everybody else did to make sure we moved forward with a refocused energy. It would be disingenuous of me to say in the beginning it wasn’t controversial for our holding company. But I felt by last year, the people who were with us, even the creative community, were actually pretty supportive.”
That’s not to say Publicis wasn’t the butt of some jokes at last year’s Cannes.
“Marcel, why are the Knicks going to trade Porzingis?” Interpublic Group’s R/GA posted on Twitter last year, poking fun at Publicis’ assertion that Marcel is all-knowing.
And the winners will be...
The major campaign favored to win this year is Nike’s “Dream Crazy,” from independent creative shop Wieden & Kennedy. The video, narrated by former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, features a collection of stories from athletes including Serena Williams, LeBron James and Odell Beckham Jr.
“’Dream Crazy’ is going to win everything, and it should,” O’Rourke says. “It’s one of the simplest, purest, most powerful campaigns I’ve ever seen. One of the biggest brands in the world took a clear stand on one of culture’s most controversial topics, and the results proved that opting out of controversy isn’t really an option anymore.”
While the Nike campaign received some backlash initially, it ultimately led to a sales spike. In the second quarter following the release of the spot, Nike’s revenue increased 10 percent to $9.4 billion, led by a 14 percent rise in the Nike brand to $8.9 billion.
Kassan predicts that direct-to-consumer will be the talk of the French Riviera this year, referencing brands like Peloton and Dollar Shave Club specifically.
“Understanding direct-to-consumer models is what everybody is struggling with and how they succeed in a direct-to-consumer world,” Kassan says. “You find me a topic that is more relevant to marketers today.”
Attendees are also predicting privacy and data will remain at the forefront of discussions, as will diversity and inclusion and trust and transparency. Some attendees are going to be looking at how Cannes advances the conversations around the #MeToo movement.
“Last year the #MeToo movement was raging as the festival began,” O’Rourke says. “Since then, brands and agencies have spent a massive amount of time and energy thinking about their roles in the movement. How they speak about it will say a lot about whether or not the industry has made any progress since last year.”
Pereira says the Titanium shortlist presentation is not one to miss, as it really gives attendees a sense of how marketers and their agency partners work together; it will be presented on June 18. (Pereira was a Titanium Lions juror last year.)
“I’ve been going for more than 20 years,” Pereira adds. “There’s the business Cannes that is ‘let’s go there and discuss the industry,’ and the trade Cannes that’s ‘let’s see where the work is going.’ I tend to go more for the creative side because those are the discussions that you can’t have anywhere else.”
Pereira says the parties, the business discussions and the breakfasts can be had anywhere in the world.
Still, as Kassan points out, a very large portion of the people who generate the entirety of the advertising industry’s revenue are there. Not to mention the fact that more clients attending the festival means more new-business opportunities for agencies.
“It’s a big efficiency play,” Kassan says. “Where else in the world and what other time in the world can you bring together the major players in marketing, media, advertising, entertainment and technology in four square blocks in five days? Tell me why that’s not the most important week of the year for our industry.”
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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Verizon’s in-house team created the 2019 Super Bowl spot that paid tribute to first responders. McCann New York made the ad.