July 14, 2022 / Thought Leadership

Cannes It Get Any Better? Takeaways from Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

Alyssa Stevens, Director of Public Relations and Social Media

Set in the beautiful South of France, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is one of my favorite industry events to attend. While the Côte d’Azur is certainly a magnificent destination to visit, the speakers, content, and networking opportunities that this conference brings are also unmatched. Due to the pandemic, 2019 was the last time that Cannes Lions was hosted in person and judging by the undeniable energy of attendees and the all-star lineup of speakers, it was clear that I wasn’t the only one who was thrilled to be back!

This year’s visit marked my third time attending Cannes Lions, and as I reflect on all of the sessions and conversations, there are several recurring themes and topics that were woven throughout the conference. As marketers, especially those of us who specialize in the social media and influencer marketing industries, the future is bright. With Web 3 continuing to gain traction, TikTok dominating the social media landscape, and social commerce riding the coattails of ecommerce, I couldn’t be more energized by my experience at Cannes Lions.

While I wish I could have teleported you to the Mediterranean to soak up the knowledge and trends that Cannes Lions imparted, the next best thing is sharing a few of the key takeaways from my time on the Croisette…

Consumers’ expectations for brands are higher than ever before

Consumers are becoming more and more discerning about the brands they want to align themselves with, and as a result, we’re seeing a shift in how brands are approaching innovation. In a “CMOs in the Spotlight” series featuring chief marketing officers from L’Oreal, The Lego Group, and Marriott International, the focus was on how today’s shopper wants quality services/products that also help to change the world and the effect that mindset has on a brand’s internal innovation process. Brand purpose is more important than ever before, but those efforts and innovation have to start within the company before trickling down to the consumer level. Consumers want to feel like they are part of a solution when they invest in a product or service, and in turn, brands are working harder than ever before to use creativity and innovation to drive progress. This shift in the consumer mindset will continue to evolve, so it’s up to marketers to decide what their brand stands for and how that affects their upcoming initiatives and launches. It’s not just about what a brand says they do, it’s about what they actually do and how consumers can get involved with it. 

Influencer 3.0 focuses on “Join Me” vs. “Watch Me”

When influencers first became a thing, it was all about visually pleasing photos and perfectly curated feeds, but as the industry grows and more global brands invest significant budgets towards influencer marketing, we’re beginning to see a shift in both brand and consumer expectations around influencer content. During a session led by content creator @AlexisRen and the VP of Marketing and Communications (Americas) at Burberry, the idea of influencers building a community for a brand vs. just posting photos was a main theme. Influencers are held to a high standard by their followers to share authentic content because their audience craves a story around the products/experience that they post instead of just seeing a nice image. Brands can help influencers build audience trust by truly collaborating with them instead of just renting their ad space and reach. Influencer 3.0 is expected to place a higher emphasis on the “substance equation,” encouraging influencers and brands to create collaborations built around reliability, passion, humility, and vulnerability. These are the type of influencer programs that are expected to best resonate with today’s consumer. 

The customer journey is shortening and social media is leading the way

Brands are realizing that as consumer attention spans shrink, they need to maximize the time they have with shoppers and meet them where they are…and that’s on social media. 81% of shoppers were already using social media to discover brands/research experiences before the pandemic and now the customer journey has been shortened, allowing them to convert directly from social. With social media platforms evolving their shopping capabilities, we will see more brands play in this space and put additional marketing dollars into converting consumers directly from social. In a session led by WARC, the speakers acknowledged that while social commerce is exciting, it also puts a larger onus on the brand to make their social media and influencer collaborations compelling enough to entice consumers to click through to purchase within moments of seeing their product/service. As a consumer, I’ve personally done this and love the ease and instant gratification of the transaction, but as a marketer, I feel the increased pressure to ensure that my clients’ social presence is working as hard as it can to resonate with its target social media audience. 

NFTs may be here to stay

NFTs…a topic that everyone wants to discuss, but one that most people don’t know much about. According to executives from Vayner Media, NFTs are here to stay, and in order for brands to maintain cultural relevance, they need to begin evaluating a strategy. Right now, the majority of consumers are looking to buy NFTs for four main reasons: status, participation, trading, and collecting. But as this matures, it’s anticipated that NFTs will become less about collectibility and more about utility. Brands who want to join the fold as early adopters can mint NFTs that provide utility for consumers. For example, NFTs can offer access to an experience, build upon a brand’s loyalty program, showcase innovation, and give back to philanthropic causes. While only 0.09% of internet users currently have NFTs, it’s expected that this number will increase significantly over the next 12 to 24 months, and as a result, we’ll see price stabilization and the utility aspect of NFTs beating the collectibility.