Back to Insights

Creating Connections at Cannes Lions 2023

June 25, 2023

Cannes Lions is a pivotal event for fostering connections, driving brand growth, and providing a unique platform where industry leaders come together to explore the power of collaboration and partnership. The essence of Cannes lies in the recognition that creative and media must converge to create impactful brand experiences. From this need to collaborate, connection becomes the defining word, reflecting the importance of establishing meaningful relationships and understanding the needs and desires of people. In designing for people, these connections serve as a catalyst for unlocking authentic brand truths that resonate universally.

Dentsu’s Cannes Lions 2023 Rewind Report explores five key trends that emerged from the most notable award-winning work and the discussions help among industry leaders at this year’s festival. Here’s our take on how advertisers can incorporate these learnings into their media strategies. ​

Bringing Analog Back into a Digital World

In an era where technology reigns supreme, the resurgence of analog experiences has become a captivating nostalgia-laden phenomenon. As an agency that places people at the center of our approach, Carat not only recognizes the profound impact of human emotion but also embraces the enduring value of crafting media experiences that evoke a nostalgic connection on a deeply personal level.

Carat Takes: While digital technology has its proven merits, there are certain social issues that demand a different approach. Brands are now actively leaning in to help solve these significant challenges and reach people on a deeply human level. Not all connections can be effectively addressed through purely digital means. This is where the power of nostalgia comes into play. It has the ability to bridge gaps and bring individuals together in ways that even the most advanced digital technologies cannot replicate. The growing trend of utilizing nostalgia in marketing acknowledges our tendency as humans to seek familiarity and a sense of simpler times during tumultuous and uncertain periods.

Highlighting How Data and Tech-enabled Experiences Can Solve for Human Needs

Winning work at this year’s festival emphasized the significance of trust and personalized experiences, showcasing the importance of accessible, transferable, and interoperable data, along with agile content engines. Works such as Eurofarma's 'Scrolling Therapy,' Mastercard's 'Where to Settle,' and Skip the Dishes' 'The Inflation Cookbook' were recognized for their ability to solve real-world problems. Traditional digital transformation programs have faced challenges in achieving hyper-personalization with low success rates. As a result, brands must reimagine data and technology to strengthen customer relationships and uncover unmet needs.

Carat Takes: In the broader context, the emergence of AI in the new era brings to mind the era of big data. However, can AI truly replace human emotion? Looking back at history, technology has consistently enhanced our understanding of human motivation without replacing it. The winning work at Cannes Lions attest to the fact that technology cannot substitute for genuine human experiences.  

Satisfying the Need for Release

This year emphasized the significance of satisfying our need for release through creative content. Amid global crises, brands recognized the value of escapism and levity as a way to disconnect from economic pressures and social anxieties. The festival highlighted the role of authenticity, nostalgia, and addressing societal issues in creating impactful experiences. By understanding the power of joy, humor, and levity, brands can effectively connect with audiences and provide a much-needed release from the challenges of the world.

Carat Takes: Cannes Lions 2023 highlighted the undeniable human aspect of the festival's talks and discussions. While automation and AI talks are still prominent, it became evident that alongside technological advancements, we still yearn for the human touch in our day-to-day lives and the connections we forge with one another. The festival emphasized the importance of finding a balance between what makes us human and the role of technology. It celebrated the moments of joy, humor, and levity that allow brands to effectively connect with audiences, providing a much-needed release. As we navigate the boundless possibilities of the digital era, Cannes reminded us of the enduring power of human connection and the authentic experiences that come with it.

Seen at Cannes

"Certified Human" for Intel

Dentsu Creative Chicago and Intel took home both a gold and a silver award for their work on the campaign “Certified Human,” which used technology to identify deep-fake videos in real-time. The campaign was the most shortlisted U.S. work in the Brand Experience, Creative B2B and Creative Data categories.

"EVs On Screen" for General Motors and Netflix

The collaborative campaign "EVs On Screen" by General Motors and Netflix made an impression at Cannes Lions, winning a Silver Lion in the Film Lions category for its emphasis on corporate purpose and social responsibility. The campaign's ability to highlight the automotive industry earned it a Bronze Lion in the same category specifically for automotive-related content.

"Touch Card" for Mastercard

Mastercard's "Touch Card" campaign, developed by McCann, secured a Bronze Lion in the Direct Lions category for its successful launch/re-launch strategy. The campaign effectively utilized broadcast media to introduce the innovative "Touch Card" and generate excitement among consumers.

Dentsu in Conversation

Michael Law, CEO, Carat North America in Conversation with Josh Earnest Senior Vice President and Chief Communications Officer for United Airlines 

Mike Law and Josh Earnest shared their insights on the transformative power of creativity. They emphasized that the collective energy of people present at Cannes fuels creativity and contributes to the vitality of brands. The session highlighted the profound impact of creative thinking in driving brand success and generating positive energy within the industry. The participants expressed their enthusiasm for the event and the invaluable connections made at Cannes, as they celebrated the power of creativity and its ability to shape the future of brands.

Where Are We Now: An Intimate Conversation with Media's Top Agency Executives

Over the past three years, the media industry has taken significant steps towards investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) efforts and fulfilling their financial commitments. However, it's crucial to acknowledge that there is still a long way to go in achieving true media equity. During the session, our esteemed panelists, including Cavel Khan, Chief Growth Officer of Group Black; Mark Prince, SVP and Head of Economic Empowerment at dentsu Media; Gonzalo Del Fa, President of Group M Multicultural; Shelby Saville, Chief Investment Officer for Publicis US; Geoffrey Calabrese, Chief Investment Officer at Omnicom Media Group; and Alejandro Clabiorne, Executive Director of Mediahub Worldwide, shared their insights on the current state of the industry and emphasized the ongoing importance of investing in diverse and Black-owned media. It was an enlightening discussion that shed light on the progress made while highlighting the work that lies ahead.

Media as Matchmaker: Your Content, My Platform 

In today's fast-evolving landscape, where media formats and platforms are proliferating, the importance of context cannot be emphasized enough. This session delved into the secrets of captivating storytelling and cutting-edge content delivery strategies. The esteemed speakers, including Maggie Schmerin, Chief Advertising Officer of United; Pooja Midha, EVP & General Manager of EffecTV; Comcast Cable, Sadé Muhammad, Chief Marketing Officer of TIME; Latasha Gillespie, Head of Global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Amazon Studios; and Angela Tangas, CEO of Dentsu UK&I, shared their expertise and perspectives on harnessing the power of context to engage audiences in unprecedented ways. 

Harness the Black Effect: Diversity as a Game Changer for Brands

An insightful session featuring Brianne Boles-Marshall, MBA, Lead of Diverse Media Strategy & Investment for General Motors and the winners of the BECA (Black Executive CMO Alliance) Future Leaders competition discussed the significance of inclusive data in the industry, acknowledging that it remains a challenge. Brianne Boles-Marshall introduced the group's new tool, Amplify, which aims to address this issue and provide solutions. The session shed light on the importance of diversity and how it can drive positive change for brands, highlighting the need for inclusive data to foster more inclusive and effective marketing strategies

All Things Cannes

Mike Law, CEO at Carat North America, Cara Lewis, Chief Investment Officer at dentsu US, and Mark Jones, Client President at Carat, sat down to cover all things Cannes Lions, the annual international festival of creativity, from key themes, the impact of the festival on brands and media, and what to expect to see in the second half of the year. Take a listen on Spotify, Apple, SoundCloud, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, TuneIn and Google Podcasts.