Lorraine Woods: Festival highlights from a Cannes Lions first timer

Lorraine Woods cannes

“As technology advances and the advertising landscape continues to evolve, the industry is going to continue to experience rapid change and disruption.”

By Lorraine Woods, Atomic 212°’s chief investment and trading officer

Attending Cannes Lions 2024 was such a privilege and an eye-opening experience. Although I had heard about the festival, its scale and structure was, at times, overwhelming. There were countless sessions to attend, houses to explore, and endless opportunities for networking and socialising. So here’s what I took away from my experience as a first-timer at Cannes Lions.

As technology advances and the advertising landscape continues to evolve, the industry is going to continue to experience rapid change and disruption, which is bringing about a fair amount of fear of the unknown. The way to navigate this future successfully and remain competitive is to not only accept change and innovation but to embrace it with open arms.

Keeping up with AI advancement is essential to future success. 

As expected, AI was a hot topic at Cannes Lions. AI will continue to drive rapid change in our industry at an exponential rate. There is a real fear that AI will replace human jobs and this was addressed by some of the smartest minds like Vidhya Srinivasan, Google’s ads product vice president;  Alex Chen, director at the Creative La; Elon Musk; and Deepak Chopra. Elon was adamant that AI will replace human jobs where if you think about it, AI can do it. Google and Deepak had a softer stance that AI will not fully take the place of human creativity, it will just augment human capabilities and open new opportunities rather than replace all jobs. 

The consensus is clear however: Those who efficiently adopt AI now will have the greatest chance of success in the future. However, there is much caution to the industry on ensuring how we teach the machine to learn will be vital for a safe and effective future that’s free from biases and exclusivity.

Fostering a yes culture will only promote innovation and encourage creativity. 

During a very impressive session with the McDonald’s global senior teams, they highlighted the results of how promoting a “yes culture” to your agency and teams will only encourage creativity and adoption of tech changes. In order to do this, you need to be consistent with your messaging and bring the key stakeholders on the journey from the beginning, getting a unified understanding of the end goal and working collaboratively to deliver this.

Having the CFO and the CMO speak the same language and align on not only what success looks like but also how to measure it was a vital piece that resulted in taking risks delivering billions of dollars of uplift in sales. They were vocal on the potential of empowering your people to take the strategic direction and execute it in their style, based on their knowledge of their department/market.  

It’s no easy task getting all stakeholders on the same journey, but the results speak for themselves; when you are able to achieve this level of collaboration and alignment you are able to promote innovation and agility which is essential for the growth of your business outcomes.  

Instilling change for our children’s future. 

Part of embracing change and innovation is also driving where we have the ability to do so. 

I had the pleasure of listening to a seven-year-old boy speak about his concerns for his future in this world if we don’t act on climate change immediately. The advertising industry holds a unique position to influence public perception and behaviour, playing a critical role in addressing climate change. It’s so good to see that there is still significant discussion about how the industry can drive positive environmental impact.

Be the catalyst within your business to orchestrate the change that is needed – for your kids or even your kid’s kids. If you don’t know where to start, you can start here simply by taking this pledge. By leveraging its influence, the advertising industry can play a pivotal role in combating climate change and promoting a more sustainable future.


Top image: Lorraine Woods 

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