AI, sustainability, and going back to brand basics: Cannes 2023 wrap-up


One of the biggest themes of the festival was artificial intelligence

With the dust settling on the 70th edition of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the final wrap-up report is out to share the creative insights and expertise from across the stages, as well as spotlighting winning work.

One of the biggest themes of Cannes 2023 was artificial intelligence – AI was everywhere. One 2022 Lion-winner that used AI at scale, ‘Shah Rukh Khan – My Ad’  for Mondelēz in India, returned to take the Creative Effectiveness Lions Grand Prix, showing how AI can help deliver business growth. 

This year, AI was referenced in the synopsis of 8.3% of winning entries, up from 4% in 2022, and was referred to across the stage sessions as a tool that can enhance creativity.

Speakers at this year’s Festival were aligned: despite the numerous advantages offered by AI, human insights will continue to power impactful creativity. The advice was to use AI like any other tech or tool. As David Droga, CEO of Accenture Song and this year’s Dan Wieden Titanium Lions Jury President, said when referring to 2023’s four Titanium Lion winners: “The best ideas were made possible because of technology. But they weren’t technology ideas.”

Robert Wong, VP Creative Lab at Google said “We’re all at the beginning of this AI journey. No one has all the answers. AI is just raw clay. It takes people with curiosity, creativity and compassion to harness AI’s rich potential.

“At Google, we’re taking a bold and responsible approach to AI. This is a collective effort and we are excited to partner with the industry to address the opportunities and answer the questions around AI for people, businesses, and society.”

Other themes that dominated the 2023 Festival included a movement to go back to the basics of building brands. 

It’s clear, though, that how brands are showing up is changing. Nearly half of the global creative community (48%) is prioritising investment in targeted promotions to drive sales uplift above brand-building and customer experience, according to Lions’ State of Creativity Study released in April 2023.

Finally, brands are navigating their way through multiple crises at once – that’s become the normal way of working. We’re living in a time of polycrisis. Climate change. Ongoing conflicts around the globe. Economic uncertainty. The issues of the moment make for a world that feels increasingly unstable. 

According to Kantar, there is a value action gap among consumers where 97% want to follow a sustainable lifestyle, but 13% feel they can follow it through.

Marketers are wasting their energy on “average” work that’s “polluting” the world, said Sir John Hegarty, co-founder and creative director at The Garage Soho and The Business of Creativity. “I’m on a mission to get people to understand that creativity is the best way to save the planet,” he said. “Constantly producing average is screwing the environment. We’ve got to sell creativity in another way. People need to look at creativity as a green phenomenon.”

See Also: Mediaweek’s Cannes 2023 wrap – the top sessions, brand activations, and award winners

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