MTM’s 4 favourite takeouts from Cannes Lions 2017

Following the recent wrap-up of the ad’s industry biggest annual event, the Cannes Lions, we wanted to share with you four things that caught our eye from this year’s festival of creativity.

1. The Girls’ Lounge – female empowerment or lip service?

Despite all the talk and genuine intentions, one conclusion from this year’s festival is that the industry still has a long way to go in its pursuit of diversity and gender equality. The topics took centre stage at this year’s Lions, attracting speakers such as Hellen Mirren, with sessions dedicated to prejudice, stereotyping and inclusivity.

In the meantime, over at the Girls’ Lounge, female attendees were invited to learn styling tips, book hair and manicure appointments and get confidence coaching. What began as a female-only ‘oasis’ at a few select conferences, is fast becoming a fixture on the Lions’ festival scene. This year the Lounge hosted talks from various female ad executives, with discussions around the future of women and their lack of representation at the top.

However, some female leaders had reservations as to what kind of message the Girls’ Lounge is sending. “The thing I get a little confused about is having a space that is asking me to come and enjoy this frilly pampering, but has these serious topics they want to address. I think it’s sending mixed signals,” said Ginny Golden, group creative director at AKQA.

2. “It is the year of the statue”

This is how one judge described this year’s Lions. Three-dimensional entries that blur the boundaries between the worlds of art and advertising were the talk of the festival this year. Take Graham, for example. A result of collaboration between an artist, a trauma surgeon and an accident research engineer, it was created to study the effects of road trauma on the human body. Elsewhere, McCann’s ‘Fearless Girl’ scooped up a handful of prestigious gongs, while a campaign featuring a breastfeeding mannequin got a lot of recognition for challenging shopping malls all over Colombia to change their policies about breastfeeding in public places.

3. Snapchat made a splash in Cannes

Snapchat’s gigantic Ferris wheel dominated the Croisette this year. In contrast, the message that Snapchat’s executives were trying to convey to advertisers was that bigger isn’t better. The company believes ads should not be pitched on reach alone; instead, it encourages advertisers to focus on creativity and functionality – features that from the beginning have helped Snapchat stand out amongst its rival social networks. And yet, according to one agency chief “Social media in 2017 for the majority of large brands is about scale”. Snapchat has gone to great lengths to assure advertisers at Cannes that it understands their needs. However, as it increases the volume of advertising on its site, and as rivals add similar features and functionality, Snapchat may face a challenge to see if it can hold on to its valuable, but notoriously ad-averse youth audience.

4. Is this the beginning of the end for the yacht parties?

In an attempt to curb “inappropriate” and “distasteful” behaviour of festival attendees, the organisers of this year’s Lions introduced restrictions on the so-called super yachts entering the Cote d’Azur port. The move was undoubtedly welcomed by some ad and media executives who have been calling for stricter controls over the Lions’ party culture.

The crackdown comes amid growing concerns for the future of the ad industry, as brands slash their budgets, and agencies come to terms with the growing influence of online tech giants. Indeed, one powerhouse has already decided their money would be better spent elsewhere, prompting some commentators to state that Cannes will never be the same again.

And if you ever wondered whether the Lions’ categories could do with some expansion (there were 24 of them at the last count), someone’s already done all the thinking: here’s a short but delightful list of suggestions to tickle your fancy.

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About Oksana Uustalu

Oksana Uustalu is a Senior Research Executive at MTM, working in the quantitative team. Her interests include consumer psychology, with a focus on how people make purchase decisions, and how emotions, attitudes and cognitive biases affect buying behaviour.