By Sara Mustafa

Smartology in Cannes: Insights and Takeaways from the 2023 Festival of Creativity

This June key members of Smartology, Mark Bembridge, CEO, and Jonny Genese, CSO, were able to join in on the festivities at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, marking its 70th anniversary. It is one of the most anticipated weeks in the marketing calendar, where critical conversations and topics in the industry are brought to light, in a community filled with leading international players in the game. Cannes Lions sets the bar for creativity as it showcases the creative work produced across the board, allowing marketers to take the blinders off from day-to-day work, to get inspired, curious and ask questions.

We would like to congratulate Mindshare on being awarded the Cannes Lions Media Network of the Year for the second time in four years! This award strives to illustrate media agencies' creativity and effectiveness in advertising products and services, hence Mindshare's innovative work reflects their team's dedication and ability to champion this.

To gain some first-hand insight into this year's Cannes Festival and the event's significance to the industry, we have asked Mark and Jonny to answer some all-important questions:

What were the key themes and takeaways from Cannes Lions 2023?

The key themes this year focused on Generative AI, how 3PC deprecation will affect the industry next year, what’s next for the media and creative industry as well as the importance and power of partnerships and connections.

What were the key events that you attended during your time in Cannes?

PwC always run great events during Cannes and their Thursday session on Transforming Digital Advertising was very relevant to us given privacy first solutions were a key theme alongside Generative AI and the challenges of hiring in the current digital landscape. The LinkedIn B2B Awards celebration at The Carlton brought together many leading brand, agency and publisher senior execs and was a standout networking event.

Given the current economic climate, how was the 2023 atmosphere compared to last year?

Several major companies have dialed down the number of staff they sent to Cannes this year, however key senior execs, particularly from the US, continue to attend. After a more challenging start to 2023, the industry was united in forecasting a U bend economic rebound from Q4 2022 into Q4 2023 with significant pent-up budgets being released going into H2 which was a positive takeaway.

Why do we attend Cannes Lions every year and what value does it provide to Smartology?

Cannes Lions unquestionably remains the leading industry event for networking given it is the only truly internationally attended week in the calendar, where you can organise to meet with senior marketeers and publishers all in one place. It is always helpful to hear the latest industry trends and news firsthand from publishers and brands, but recognizing the continued importance of presence, partnerships and connections, networking, and meeting current/new clients definitely provides us with the most value.

And what makes this festival unique compared to other industry events?

The beautiful Cannes setting, the relaxed atmosphere and the opportunity to connect with and meet industry leaders makes the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity a truly unique experience. One moment you’ll be at a planned meeting and then very quickly you’ll be developing a key new relationship spontaneously via someone you have bumped into randomly. Its international senior-level attendees definitely make Cannes the most unique event in the calendar.

Cannes Lions' fundamental focus is on creativity and effectiveness, why is this so important and how does this align with Smartology?

For several years leading up to Covid, AdTech actually started dominating conversations at Cannes, to the detriment of the creative purpose of Cannes Lions. In 2019, just before Covid hit, creativity was highlighted as being back in earnest with tech and data taking a backseat once again. This year, with the explosion of Generative AI, tech dominated once again but the fact remains that it is the unification of AdTech, data and creativity that leads to brilliant marketing.

From a Smartology perspective, our AI-driven contextual matching of client-branded content will only drive more effective ad campaigns if the creative copy provided by clients is engaging, compelling and well-produced. Cannes Lions remains the best week in the annual advertising calendar where creativity and technology can meld together to the benefit of both sides of the equation.