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Trends & Insights | Blog

Cannes Lions 2023: Our key notes, insights and trends to watch

June 29, 2023

Data & Insights

From the booming creator economy, to a move away from ‘sad-vertising’ – here are some of the key trends from Cannes Lions 2023.

Elise Pearce

Senior Associate Director

Last week, more than 19,000 industry professionals came together from all corners of the globe for Cannes Lions – a ‘Festival of Creativity’ that celebrates the creative communications industry, and the ideas and people behind it. This year, for the first time, some of the Battenhall team were among them for a week of talks, networking and generating ideas under the Côte D’Azur sun. 

Our decision to attend Cannes Lions wasn’t a quick one. The investment brands and agencies have to make in the event is substantial but, without sounding too cliché, you get out of it what you put in. From insightful back-to-back sessions, workshops and panel discussions, to amazing networking opportunities (who knew you could meet someone from Emmanuel Macron’s team at the LinkedIn rooftop stage?), plus seeing and understanding what it actually takes to win an award – it really was an incredible opportunity and an honour for us to be part of.

Read on for the key trends and learnings we took away from the week.

The creator boom

Although 26% of Cannes Lions attendees are in the C-Suite, and 32% at VP/Director level, the event is known for attracting a mixture of other professionals too. This year saw a significant rise in creators at the event, with both individuals and influencer agencies in attendance – reflecting the boom in the creator economy we’ve seen over the last 12 months.

With creators now more valuable than ever before, budgets are naturally being redistributed – with Professor Scott Galloway noting how many big brands are now scaling back their advertising spend in favour of authentic influencer collaborations.

Game-changing AI

AI is everywhere right now, and Cannes was no exception – with plenty of conversation around generative AI and predictive AI expected to be game-changers for the ad industry.

But how? Speakers predicted that the tech would revolutionise content production by allowing marketers to test different executions at a faster pace than ever before. Although others noted the high cost and resource implications of AI, the overwhelming message was that it’s time for brands to lean in to the tech – and fast.

DE&I challenges

DE&I was still very much front of mind for brands and agencies, as marketers grappled with tough questions – including how to support LGBTQ+ communities with true authenticity. Doing so requires raising the bar for creative inclusion. Marketers should be purposely searching for creative solutions that serve each and every person, beyond narrowly-defined target audiences. This slight shift in approach will see a redistribution of brand love and loyalty as brands and communities come together to work more closely – shaping more inclusive campaigns as they do so.

The green future

Sustainability was a hot topic – with 287 Twitter mentions featuring users’ reflections on the hopeful and motivational message shared at the UN’s #SDGLounge talk. In the session, speakers agreed that the ad industry has the power and reach to educate and create real change – but this needs to be harnessed properly, and industry leaders must start committing. While fears of being accused of greenwashing are still valid, speakers urged professionals to see this as a creative challenge instead of a blocker.

A new era of fun

The pandemic’s “safe, same, sad” ads are making way for the fun movement, in a major priorities pivot – as, according to Kantar, humorous advertising has been on the decline since 2002. YouTube has evidenced this in their analysis of 20 million ads, which found that loud, colourful, diverse, silly and feel-good ads were on the up, giving the world “the super fun adrenaline shot it really needed” (Andrew Robertson).

Conscious consumption

Looking ahead to 2025, WSGN outlined the four key consumer groups to watch:

  1. The New Nihilists: Consumers who haven’t necessarily given up caring, but who are finding new meaning and happiness outside of the mainstream
  2. The Reductionists: Those who are trying to reduce their interactions to a more human scale
  3. The Time Keepers: The consumers who are fighting against the snack culture of social media, and opting to invest their time into things that add value to the world
  4. The Pioneers: The movers, shakers, and opportunity-makers who thrive on change and new ideas

You can explore more of our Cannes Lions insights and analysis in this infographic. For more updates on the latest in social media, you can sign up to receive our daily WhatsApp updates and subscribe to the Battenhall Monthly newsletter here.