For years, the creative side of Cannes complained about a creeping rise of media giants coming in and changing the face of the festival. Now, it’s influencers who are starting to takeover.
“There were some rumblings that media has become such a strong presence here, which is positive in lots of ways,” said Ellie Bamford, chief strategy officer at Wunderman Thompson, a WPP agency, “but taking away from the heart of what this is about. It feels a little bit overrun.”
This year, creators have a larger footprint. Influential, the creator marketing firm, took over the beach spot vacated by Twitter. Whalar and Captiv8, two other big influencer marketing firms, were in Cannes. “Influencers are pretty much part of every brand’s budget,” Bamford said, “and it feels like the next thing coming into the festival.”
Influencers including Rod Thill, Emma Chamberlain and Christina Najjar (aka Tinx), were in attendance.
Influential helped produce Paris Hilton’s 10-minute TikTok ad for Hilton, which was up for four Cannes Lions awards.
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Unilever did well at Cannes with work focused on the harm social media can cause. Its “Cost of Beauty” work outlining how social media (specifically Instagram influencers) fosters girls’ eating disorders and backing a law regulating social media in the U.S. won a Gold Lion in Health & Wellness. Dove’s “Turn Your Back” TikTok campaign to battle the esteem-eroding effect of a viral TikTok’s filter won the Media Grand Prix.
So, is Unilever feeling any backlash from social media platforms? “No, not as far as I know,” said Alessandro Manfredi, global executive VP of Dove, when asked during a press roundtable, which happened to be held in a room in Meta’s sprawling operation at the Majestic. “We continue to have discussions, because we have been discussing sharing our data [on the negative impact social media can have] with them. We are very open. Social media are also good for many things and can be a force of good, but at the same time, there are things that we think that should be changed. So we continue to talk and be very transparent about what we think. It’s no hard feelings but stand by what we think is right.”