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Defying Convention at Cannes Lions 2023


June 30, 2023

Cannes Lions 2023 reflected the ever-evolving nature of the media industry and the influence of channel proliferation, fragmented attention, data explosion, and technological advancements. As we look back at the lessons gleaned, the festival not only delivered actionable insights and inspirational approaches, but also reinforced our belief in the power of marketing to forge genuine connections beyond traditional advertising, fueling our determination at dentsu X to push boundaries, foster creativity, and deliver tangible outcomes.  

Dentsu’s Cannes Lions 2023 Rewind Report explores five key trends that emerged from the most notable award-winning work and the discussions help among industry leaders at this year’s festival. Here’s our take on how advertisers can incorporate these learnings into their media strategies.  

Turning Constraint into Opportunity 

As marketers, we often fixate on the obstacles that hinder us from realizing our vision, the barriers impeding our progress, and the challenges we face. Many of us have wished for more resources, better conditions, or fewer limitations. However, isn't that precisely where creativity comes into play? It empowers us to find a way forward despite the constraints we encounter. Cannes Lions serves as a poignant reminder that resourcefulness, adaptability, and the courage to think outside the box are the cornerstones of success.   

The dXclusive: dentsu X’s ongoing pursuit for understanding our clients’ business challenges beyond just paid media allows our teams to leverage rich data and actionable insights to develop a comprehensive solution. This approach sparks curiosity, pushes boundaries, and creates a holistic and integrated strategy for earned, owned, and paid media.  

Bringing Analog Back into a Digital World 

Another noteworthy aspect of this year’s festival was the concept of analog elements in a digital world. While a few media conglomerates tend to dominate the industry's spotlight and budget, Cannes Lions showcased the presence of innovation and modernization in every corner of the advertising world.  

The dXclusive: dentsu X recognizes the need to uncover these hidden opportunities and reinvent "traditional" mediums. Programmatic direct mail, digital out-of-home, and experiential print present unique ways to captivate audiences and create immersive experiences that defy convention. By embracing these innovations, dentsu X aims to unlock fresh engagement strategies and provide unique value to its clients.  

Highlighting How Data and Tech-enabled Experiences Can Solve for Human Needs 

The industry-wide focus on smarter planning tools to unlock the potential of data through technology was evident. However, the next evolution requires the ability to combine data with creative and consumer sentiment analysis to gain a deeper understanding of consumer motivations. 

The dXclusive: Almost all agencies are focusing on smarter planning tools to further unlock the power of data through technology. But the next evolution must have the ability to ingest creative and consumer sentiment to further understand consumer motivations. Dentsu X's research on "Motivations: The Why Beyond the What" revealed six core Motivations and 25 sub-Motivations that drive human behavior. By integrating these insights into the proprietary tool, M1 Planner, dentsu X enables brands to comprehend audiences on a deeper, human level. This includes understanding media behaviors, lifestyles, passions, favorite brands, and category behaviors. This data-driven approach allows dentsu X to craft more meaningful and tailored strategies that resonate with consumers and drive impactful results. 

Cannes Lions 2023 was a testament to the boundless potential of creativity, encompassing diverse mediums, customer experiences, and commerce. As we witnessed the fusion of data-driven insights, tech-enabled experiences, and the reemergence of analog elements, the festival showcased work that seamlessly converged new technology with trusted practices. It was a powerful reminder that when constraints are viewed as opportunities, remarkable transformations occur.  

Seen at Cannes 

"The Floor Is Flava" for Frank’s RedHot 

Submitted by Grey, “The Floor is Flava” is an innovative and immersive brand partnership campaign that takes inspiration from Fortnite's popular "Floor is Lava" challenge. Set on a chicken wing-shaped island with a volcano spewing Frank's RedHot sauce (or "flava"), the campaign combines gaming and flavor to engage the target audience. This unique collaboration showcases Frank's RedHot's creativity and commitment to exploring new marketing avenues, following their previous success with the creation of the world's first edible NFT made from Buffalo wings.  

This campaign received a Bronze Lion in the Entertainment Lions for Gaming category (B04/038) for Brand Integration for Games and was shortlisted in the Entertainment Lions for Gaming category (D01/043) for Brand Partnerships, Sponsorships & Collaborations.  

Dentsu in Conversation 

The Human Cost of Predictive AI: Balancing Ethics and Autonomy 

Aurelia Noel, Global Head of Innovation and Digital Transformation at dentsu X, delivered a thought-provoking talk around the intersection of ethics and autonomy in the context of predictive artificial intelligence as part of Future Gazers: The Human Cost of Predictive AI, The Cultural Climate of New Luxury, Social Influence series.  

Full Speed Ahead in Sports Marketing  

This session featured insightful discussions on the power of fandom and its impact on creating deeper customer connections through sports media. The panel included esteemed speakers such as Lando Norris, F1 Driver at McLaren Racing; Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing; Jonnie Cahill, CMO of Heineken US; Cara Lewis, Chief Investment Officer of Dentsu Media US; Magno Herran, VP of Global Marketing Partnerships at Netflix; and Wendell Scott, SVP of Disney/ESPN Advertising Sales. Together, they explored innovative strategies for brands to tap into highly engaged audiences, leveraging touchpoints across various platforms and maximizing the potential of sports media.   

Artful Intelligence and the Power of Prediction 

Bruce Williams, EVP of Performance Marketing at dentsu Media US, joined leaders from Google and Meta to discuss the collaboration between humans and AI, moving beyond artificial intelligence to embrace artful intelligence in shaping the future.  

Show Me The Money  

In a thought-provoking session hosted by The Wall Street Journal, Douglas Rozen, CEO of dentsu Media Americas, joined Chrissie Hanson, CEO of OMD USA, to discuss the evolving landscape of the ad business. The conversation delved into the impact of recession fears, persistent inflation, and rising interest rates on the industry. Douglas Rozen emphasized the importance of striking a balance between intelligence-driven approaches and the need for ingenuity.