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#sowhoknew: Cannes can change for good – Lions 2018 Preview

The 65th Cannes Lions ‘Festival of Creativity’ gets underway this week following a watershed reinvention of the conference making it far more inclusive and affordable.

One of the key initiatives this year is ‘See It Be It’ which addresses the gender imbalance in senior creative leadership by promoting greater diversity and representation through extensive training, mentoring and networking opportunities. Some pundits have even described it as the year of the Cannes Lioness.

In addition, the Lions have also introduced #MoreLikeMe to champion diverse creative talent which builds on HP’s marketing Diversity Scorecard to support its agencies in their journey of encouraging more culturally representative creative talent and teams. The program has selected 15 racially and ethnically diverse rising stars to Cannes for an immersive experience including mentoring, networking and curated programming.

This year will also see the introduction of a two-day Hackathon entitled ‘Change for Good’ in conjunction with Amazon and international advocacy platform Global Citizen. The Lions have invited crack creative talent from around the World to tackle 6 briefs including topics such as Poverty, Food & Hunger, Health, Education, Gender Equality and Clean Water & Sanitation.

In a bid to make the event more cost-effective, Ascential have also cut the Lions down to 5 days (from the previous 8), reduced the basic ticket price by around €900, many hotel prices have been frozen and they are offering a deal with over 50 restaurants offering fixed price menu’s for between €20 & €30.

Despite the many changes to the Lions the primary purpose of the Lions is to celebrate creativity in all its forms plus to educate, stimulate and inspire the communications industry. And in order to get those messages across with some style, a glittering array of star presenters such as Thandie Newton, David Schwimmer, Paloma Faith, Tyler Perry and Johnny Marr have been enlisted.

I’ve attended quite a few of these over the years, seeing an eclectic mix of stars including everyone from Iggy Pop to Kim Kardashian, Halle Berry to Ben Stiller and Bono to Will Smith. To be honest, the vast majority of these sessions are superb and offer genuine insight into how different people perceive creativity in all of its many guises.
I have also taken a look at the best sessions available at the Palais according to a list compiled by Unruly who have listed their ‘unmissable’ presentations:

New Tech: Creating Great Brand Experiences With Augmented Reality – On the overarching OMD theme of ‘Agile Commerce’, Google will talk about how Augmented Reality is set to take over shopping / gaming and how brands are quickly realising the value of this emerging immersive format.
AI Will Kill Creative. AI Will Save Creative – on the subject of ‘Artful Intelligence’ this session will reignite the debate around man vs machine and AI vs creativity.
The Death of OpenRTB: Blockchain Beyond The HypeOmnicom Media Group’s very own Barry Cupples is joined by MAD Network and WPP to discuss a new open-source blockchain protocol, which aims to address the issues in today’s programmatic marketplace and how the industry can make ‘Better Decisions Faster’

Beyond these sessions, I would also recommend:

Life on Board: Turning the Car into Media – at the forefront of automotive technology Renault will discuss the future of life on board and the evolution of in-car technology, the need for new forms of entertainment and the untapped potential for communicating with and marketing to customers
Five Campaigns That Shook the Advertising World – This exciting showcase from PepsiCo, Bacardi Martini, Lego IBM will take a deep-dive into the key entertainment verticals—including gaming, sport and music—to uncover the incredible pioneering work that has changed the rules of brand engagement forever.

Check back next week for a full review of the Cannes Lions, assessing the winners and the losers and whether the changes made to the format mean that Cannes can really change for good.

Steve Blakeman

Steve Blakeman is the Global Media Lead - Nestlé at Mindshare. Previously, he was the Managing Director - Global Accounts, OMD Europe. Previously, he was the CEO, Asia Pacific – OMD. Prior to that, he was Global Chief Integration Strategy Officer (Asia Pacific) for IPG Mediabrands (Initiative & Universal McCann). He has also had stints as worked as Managing Partner at Omnicom Media Group owned media agency, PHD where he successfully launched their second office in the UK. He began his career at JWT and has over two decades of experience in advertising, media and marketing communications.