CANNESPRESS Day 2: Ritson, Pritchard’s paint by numbers preso, SNL’s Kenan Thompson, saddest shop


SKMG’s CANNESPRESS will package up the best and worst of Cannes, the team’s picks and recs, and what they’ve overheard at the Palais and on the boardwalk.

This is the second installment of SKMG’s Cannes-edition of its newsletter COMMPRESS, CANNESPRESS, covering the Cannes Lions from La Croisette.

Day 2 starts with jaunt down Rue des Serbes, takeaway espresso, and a Cannes Special Edition of The Wall Street Journal in the back pocket. Well, at least it did for us,

Andrew [Knowles] appeared briefly with a face full of regret at 8:30am, rushing out the door to the Brand Marketers Academy. While yesterday smacked of generative AI talk, today was all about building the case for humanity. That is, until Mark Ritson did a full 180 in the final session of the day. We’ll get to that soon.

There’s a real hark back to the demand for brands to show their human side, be it through using comedy to relate, finding ways to connect with audiences over everyday moments, or taking a stand on issues that really matter. It’s about not discounting human ingenuity, especially at the technological turning point AI presents us with in 2024.

P&G’s Marc Pritchard opened with a belter: “humanity matters and AI just doesn’t get the spine tingling”.

It’s been noted that the present day is a pretty serious time in this post-COVID and high cost of living world, and so it took a comedian like The Mighty Ducks and SNL star, Kenan Thompson, to break down the ways humour can tackle serious topics, while also injecting purpose-driven messaging into brand comms. And, speaking of purpose-driven, Richard Edelman encouraged brands to not get into politics, but to instead have a stance on political issues and ideologies. He argued that we’re seeing an uptick in nationalism and brands should understand where their customers’ political allegiances lie.

Playing to a packed room, former Cannes skeptic Mark Ritson proved yet again why he’s often the smartest guy in most rooms. Without apology, he stepped the crowd through his explanation of why creativity represents 3% – yep, 3% – of total marketing effectiveness. He also travelled back 60 years to remind the people that the four Ps have always been the bedrock of smart marketing. Of course, at the end of his talk, he bowed to the audience like a third-rate opera singer. Sheer genius.

Overhead in Cannes

Australian marketing overlord Mark Ritson:
“No one gives a fuck what a toothpaste brand thinks about coronavirus.”
“Marketers have one brand to think about. Consumers have 9,000 brands coming at them all the time.”
“The problem with creative awards is we are smelling our own farts.”
“Creativity is important but we have rarefied it and over promoted it.”


“Marketing teams are not intellectually diverse enough. Marketing needs to be a big tent and be open to having employees with different opinions” – Richard Edelman, the godfather of modern PR.

“Brands are running naked in a marketing forest. You can run but you can’t hide” – Luis Miguel Messianu from MEL.

“You can’t manufacture a cultural phenomenon” – Kenan Thompson, comedian.

“We got a sleeper here. You all good? You need a soda or something?” – Kenan Thompson, upon spotting someone napping in the crowd.

“If you only work on cool brands, you lose half the challenge” – Patricia Corsi, former CMO Bayer and Heineken, now Kimberly-Clark.

“Faith is the North Star of creative commitment. Faith can take ideas a long way if you persevere and don’t give up” – Kika Douglas Castroviejo from 180 Global, as she was being tattooed.

“Empathy is a muscle. It’s a daily practice to fine tune it and make it super powerful” – Kika Douglas Castroviejo, again.

“Humour allows us to invite consumers into a conversation without judgement” – Chris Symmes, Hellmann’s.

Picks and Recs

Food of the day

Pic below. It’s so easy — too easy— to get a muffin wrong. But this perfect chocolate one  — rich, moist, and spiked with surprising melty bits —  from the Solarium Cafe in the basement of the Palais (not typically known for its culinary prowess) has reinstated Sam [Somers]’ faith in the muffin category as a whole.


You gotta know when to fold ‘em

Remember the days when Procter & Gamble marketing boss Marc Pritchard would hold Cannes in his hands with strong advice and unexpected insights? Not anymore.

Marc is truly a marketing legend but he delivered a paint-by-numbers keynote. What becomes a legend the most? A dignified exit. Leave them wanting more, not wishing you had said less.

The least popular store in Cannes

The Cannes Lion Shop. For sale: Cannes Lions totes, Cannes Lions drink bottles, tiny stuffed Cannes Lions. Customer count: zero. A 10% discount for select delegates just isn’t doing the trick.

Anouk Aimée

Saddest coincidence of the day

The death of French icon Anouk Aimee, the winner of Best Actress at the 1980 Cannes film festival.

Most cliched session of the day

“When societal progress meets resistance” featuring, among others, PR boss Richard Edelman. A few bits that sent us:

“We have to walk the talk.”

“Change starts at the top.”

“We have to be multilocal, not multinational.”

“It’s time for brands to take a stand.”

“It’s important for us to see ourselves as human.”

What else?

Andrew had a Fleur de Saltburn moment at the Brand Innovators’ party in Cap-Ferrat last night.

To subscribe to SKMG’s COMMPRESS/CANNESPRESS, sign up here.

To Top