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Takeaways from the 2022 Cannes Lions

3 MINUTE READ | June 29, 2022

Takeaways from the 2022 Cannes Lions

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity returned to the south of France last week after a two-year hiatus, offering attendees a packed schedule of award shows, industry panels, conference sessions, and beachfront brand activations. As media partners and tech companies hosted events and meetings, many took the opportunity of Cannes to announce product advancements and new partnerships.

“Conversations during the week carried similar themes across key platforms and partners, including agile formats, more accountability with both data and ad spend, and a call to align creative and media more closely together,” said Parks Blackwell, VP of client development and marketing at PMG. “The industry is preparing for economic uncertainty and the future of privacy, and everyone is looking to help brands revise their media mix for both premium scale and agility.”

Google updated its inclusive marketing playbook just in time for Cannes Lions and hosted sessions on relevant inclusivity-related consumer insights for advertisers in attendance at its festival activation Google Beach. A key theme of this year’s Cannes Lions was “representing the underrepresented in creative work,” with Google serving as the first official accessibility partner of the event. In this role, Google provided American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and Live Transcribe for real-time captioning, equipped Google Beach with wheelchair accessibility and ensured all Google-hosted Cannes programming met best practices for accessibility. 

The Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM), a coalition led by the World Federation of Advertisers, outlined “guidelines on misinformation, new standards on ad placements, and an outline of first steps to make the metaverse safe for advertising.” In the wake of COVID-19 and the Russian war on Ukraine, GARM formed “an essential addition” to existing brand safety frameworks to help demonetize misinformation, improve media schedules, and more. GARM also announced a new Adjacency Standards Framework to ensure that media placements for safe yet sensitive content are in a more controlled environment. The new framework defines minimum standards and an approach for managing ad placements relative to sensitive content within news feeds, stories, in-stream video, in-stream audio, and display overlays. 

Related: Ad Net Zero, the advertising industry’s initiative to address the global climate crisis, announced at Cannes its intention to expand from the U.K. to major advertising markets worldwide by rapidly establishing plans to measure carbon footprint data and reduce and offset emissions via carbon removal operations. Ad Net Zero counts major advertisers Unilever, tech companies Google, Meta, and Sky as members with support from U.S. trade organizations ANA, 4A’s, and the IAB as well.

With Disney expected to debut its ad-supported tiers later this year, Cannes attendees were eager to talk about all things streaming TV strategy, with plenty of buzz about Netflix’s much-anticipated advertising plans. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos spoke to advertisers at Cannes during the Future of Entertainment session, confirming that ads are coming to Netflix “sooner [rather] than later.” Sarandos addressed the Netflix and Roku acquisition rumors, adding, “I don’t know where that came from,” and explained that the streaming giant would be “adding an ad tier…not adding ads to Netflix as you know it today.” Without an existing advertising sales infrastructure, Netflix is in talks with Google, Comcast FreeWheel, and Roku, among others, for an ad sales partnership, but no frontrunner in the negotiations has emerged. 

Related: In a deal announced during VideoAmp’s “Currency Collaboration” event at Cannes, TelevisaUnivision and VideoAmp signed a new data, currency, and cross-platform partnership to deliver sophisticated targeting, optimization, and cross-platform capabilities for the advertisers engaging with the Hispanic community. Most notably, VideoAmp will be offered as a Nielsen currency alternative for TelevisaUnivision advertisers.

Tech companies pulled out all the stops along the French Riviera with huge exhibition spaces as Spotify, Amazon, and Snap hosted some of the most-talked-about events and experiences of this year’s Cannes Lions. Spotify’s musical lineup featured popular artists like Kendrick Lamar and Post Malone. At the same time, Amazon made a splash with Amazon Port, a collective space featuring sessions and workshops, live entertainment, and a Twitch Creator Happy Hour to demonstrate how Amazon Ads, AWS, Twitch, and Wondery come to life for brands and their customers. 

TikTok’s presence in Cannes was rather understated, likely because the company was the title sponsor at VidCon in California, which occurred during the same week as Cannes. In contrast, Reddit maintained a prominent presence as the official sponsor of the festival with the Reddit Explorers Club to help brands navigate the world of Reddit. As noted by analyst Jasmine Enberg, “Reddit clearly wants advertisers to take it seriously, and some advertisers are biting” with PMG’s head of social Carly Carson confirming that Reddit will be on most of our clients’ plans this year. Facebook parent Meta Platforms made its Cannes debut with Meta Beach to showcase the shift from mobile to the metaverse. A Reels Super Studio, Horizon Worlds Pavilion, and more offered attendees “early glimpses of the metaverse” at Meta Beach as the company highlighted what’s possible today and what the future will bring for brands in the metaverse tomorrow. 

“Social commerce was a dominant trend across all social platforms, with Meta’s and Raybans’ investments in wearable commerce, virtual AR try-on with Snap, and even Twitter making headway with its partnership with Shopify,” said Carly Carson, head of social at PMG. “All platforms honed in on the importance of their role in fostering a community through creators. This is a smart and necessary pivot as advertisers are still feeling the impact of iOS 14, bringing about a much heavier focus on engaging creative as performance data faces increasing limitations.”

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As the world’s biggest advertising conference, the festival brought together creators, innovators, and advertisers from all four corners of the world to celebrate the industry’s best and brightest while providing ample opportunity for new partnerships to spark. With Cannes, NFT.NYC, and VidCon all occurring within the same week, marketers are heading back to the office this week well-equipped with the latest insights and trends as we enter the latter half of 2022.


Posted by Abby Long