U.S. Hispanic agency Alma won four Lions on Monday for a campaign promoting Netflix drama Narcos – three of them for "Spanish Lessons," in which the main characters in the series about drug trafficker Pablo Escobar teach viewers some of the Spanish phrases frequently used in the show. Everyone's favorite is Escobar's oft-repeated "Coma mierda," helpfully spelled phonetically in ads to help Spanish learners swear correctly. That's why Alma's leaders, Isaac Mizrahi, Luis Miguel Messianu and Alvar Sunol, respectively co-president/chief operating officer, creative chairman-CEO, and co-president/chief creative officer, are dressing alike at Cannes in black "Ko.ma' Mierda" T-shirts. (And yes, they might give you one if you ask.)
Google and Facebook, after years of generating grumbling (mainly from agency people) about how they've taken over Cannes, seem to be showing a less obvious visual profile than in recent years. Part of the reason may be rules from Cannes owner Ascential against major tech sponsors starting their beachfront activities until Tuesday, so ask us again then. But asked Monday whether Facebook was lying lower this year to avoid rubbing people the wrong way, one Facebook executive said: "Probably."
Heard from a digital marketing executive sitting in the Oath-sponsored Majestic and mulling whether to attend the Oath-sponsored Stevie Nicks concert planned for Monday evening: "What is Oath?" For those who haven't read the extensive digital billboards in front of the Majestic, Oath is Verizon's newly consolidated mashup of Yahoo and AOL, including Huffington Post, Tumblr, Engadget and so much more.
While the presence of some tech icons seems to be diminishing, others, like Snapchat and Reddit are ramping up. This year, according to Reddit VP-Sales Zubair Jandali, Cannes represents a sort of "coming out" for the company. It has nine people on the ground, making for nearly 5% of its approximately 200-person staff. In addition to Jandali, they include co-founder Alexis Ohanian, VP-Marketing Roxy Young and Head of Communications Anna Soellner. The team has been meeting with various marketers and agencies to get them up to speed on the platform's offerings (while other more hardcore users are offering Reddit their own ideas on what they need from it). Meanwhile, Cannes jurors are considering the first entry of a campaign on Reddit, the "world's largest Secret Santa Gift Exchange" sponsored by FedEx.
Also, fun fact and nice contrast to the amazing work showcased at Cannes: check out Subreddit r/fellowkids for Redditors' thoughts on the worst advertising ever.
Cannes Lions Managing Director Jose Papa said the festival decided to cut down the number of people on the juries this year to improve "the quality of the debates." He said the decision was difficult, but necessary, and was spawned from feedback of previous jury members over the years, who said smaller juries would be easier to manage.
On Discovery Stage at the Cannes Lions Monday, PHD asked the audience if 2017 is the year of the robot. The agency introduced its creation: Olly, a donut-shaped, AI-enabled robot. Similar to Amazon's Echo, Olly turns, rotates and lights up when chatting, answering questions or playing music. PHD also partnered with the Cannes Lions this year to launch the festival's first bot for Facebook Messenger. And let's not forget Huge's rose-fueled Tipsy Messenger bot. Perhaps bots are taking over.
Among the hundreds of ads for agencies and vendors lining the beach and hotels along the Croisette, one stands out: Snapchat's giant branded ferris wheel, which dominates the view in front of the Palais and makes for plenty of great Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter posts by day. Just one problem: It's not shareable at night. The wheel has Snapchat's ghost logo at its center -- but it doesn't show up in dark photos, at least not in this one snapped from relatively close range via an iPhone on Sunday. Money well spent?
Lou Paskalis, senior-VP, enterprise media planning, investment and measurement at Bank of America, discovered anew that nothing comes cheap in Cannes, particularly data. Verizon's Oath owns a big chunk of Cannes this week, but AT&T owns Paskalis' lucrative data overages.
Media and tech adviser Terence Kawaja of Luma Partners has a new Cannes yacht edition of the ad-tech demo staple Lumascape. This is also a pretty handy map for those rushing to yachts for meetings or parties.
It's also worth noting that 10 of 32 Cannes yacht renters last year saw exits, which is a pretty decent ROI, as Kawaja sees it. Especially given the cost: Yachts seem extravagant, but we've heard from one seafaring Cannes advertiser that they actually cost less than comparable cabana rentals.