3 Questions to Help Marketers Learn at This Year’s Cannes Lions

Sometimes the answers aren’t the only things to teach valuable lessons

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The advertising industry lives on the cutting edge of culture. We’re constantly chasing and shaping the “next big idea,” but in this world of evolving technology and changing viewer habits, it’s easy to forget what matters most: the story.

That’s why the Cannes Lions matters—because the festival is a celebration of brand storytelling. What’s more, it is home (at least for a few days) to the world’s most creative minds. So, if you’re coming to Cannes Lions thinking you have all the answers, you’ll be missing out.

This is a chance to hear and learn from the people who are fundamentally reimagining the way our industry crafts and share stories.

Here are three big questions everyone should be asking.

How can technology help us tell better stories?

If there was any doubt that technology has transformed advertising, all you’d need to do is look around Cannes Lions. Marketers now have more ways to connect to audiences, more platforms to consider, more data to sift through. But while the impact of technology is undeniable, so is this fundamental fact: Technology is not a replacement for great creative. And it never will be.

It’s also a showcase for collaboration—because creativity breeds more creativity, and good creative is good for business.

Technology at its best enhances creative. It makes it more engaging and more powerful. For instance, we can use AI to analyze scripts to identify the most contextually relevant scenes for ads to be paired with. That’s not turning over creativity to the algorithm; that’s using the algorithm to take creativity to new heights.

How can we use talent to tell better stories?

If we’ve learned anything from four decades of Saturday Night Live, it’s that when you bring talented people together, something magical happens. And if the past 16 seasons of The Voice has taught us anything, it’s that unparalleled talent can inspire creativity in those they work with.

So, we’ve invited some of our favorite talent and producers to Cannes Lions—Lorne Michaels, Ana Gasteyer, Ryan Tedder, Audrey Morrissey—to offer their insights and perspectives to the creative community. What’s more is that spirit of partnership extends well beyond Cannes Lions. We know that giving brand marketers access to world-class actors, producers, writers, set designers and costume designers can open up a world of possibilities for brands and storytellers.

How can we transform the commercial and commerce experience to tell better stories?

There was a time not too long ago when the biggest innovation in television advertising was a 15-second ad instead of a 30-second one. Thankfully, those days are long behind us. Now we’re reimagining what the commercial and commerce experience should look like, investing in and developing new storytelling resources with plenty of innovative formats on the way.

But there’s no illusion that the toolbox is even close to full. To the contrary; many are excited to work with the creative community to develop the next generation of innovations. After all, Cannes Lions isn’t just about celebrating the best storytelling of the past year; it’s about inspiring the best storytelling of the year to come and building that future together.

Class is in session

CLX: Connect, Learn, Experience is a new program at Cannes Lions and will be home to the most provocative of these discussions. A series of masterclasses, CLX is bringing creatives together to explore the future of storytelling and ask the important questions about our work, our industry and what we can accomplish together. 

NBCU’s sessions might be called masterclasses, but really, they’re not taking place in classrooms at all. Rather, they’ll be in writers’ rooms, spaces for brilliant, diverse talent to bounce off ideas of one another and create something better than any of them could do alone.

In other words, as much as Cannes Lions is a celebration, it’s also a showcase for collaboration—because creativity breeds more creativity, and good creative is good for business. Period.