This Cannes Lions Chatbot Will Help You Get Around or Get Over Your Hangover

It was created by IV.AI and sponsored by PHD

Attendees navigating the Cannes Lions festival this week can get questions answered via chatbot. Getty Images
Headshot of Marty Swant

Advertising creatives, tech execs and media types looking to navigate their way around the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this week can enlist the help of artificial intelligence.
For the annual advertising and awards event this week on the French Riviera, attendees can use Facebook Messenger to access the official Cannes Lions bot to get a schedule of awards, plan out what to wear or find directions to the next talk. The bot—created by IV.AI, a Los Angeles-based artificial intelligence platform and sponsored by media agency PHD—can even help rosé enthusiasts recover quickly from a hangover by offering intel on a nearby juice bar.
Because of the size and complexity of the festival, using a bot can sometimes be easier, said IV.AI chief Vince Lynch. The bot understands both various prompts it provides and also questions typed in by the user, creating a more natural back-and-forth between human and bot.
“Because there is so much going on, that conversational element really helps,” Lynch said. “People don’t need to know exactly what they’re looking for, they can just type it in.”
To create the bot, IV.AI used the Cannes Lions API to access data about the festival while also ingesting data related to frequently asked questions and the answers that go with them. It also uses data from Google Maps, local intel and other information about the agencies and individuals receiving the highly competitive and highly coveted awards. (This is the first year Cannes has an official bot, which IV.AI’s office in London created in just six weeks.)
Bots, which have become increasingly popular over the past year, are often seen as more convenient than apps. They don’t require the user to download anything other than Messenger or Kik—two popular messaging apps that have helped raise the profile of the emerging type of technology. On the one hand, bots get access to a smart device, but they also have sleek design that users have come to expect from the world’s biggest apps.

“It’s like tapping into the value of a place where people already are and not making them go somewhere else,” he said of using platforms like Messenger. “If you’re actually making something that people enjoy and that is fun to use, then the hardest thing is already done.”

The bot isn’t the only thing IV.AI is doing at Cannes this year. The company also built a “smart” bartender at the festival, which serves attendees cocktails based on their social media posts. When they order a drink, the AI platform serves them one based on their social profile. The platform also uses a camera to analyze each person’s emotional reaction and determines the person’s next drink based on how they liked the last one.

“Needless to say, there were a lot of happy people,” Lynch said, speaking about an event already in the books at Cannes.

@martyswant Marty Swant is a former technology staff writer for Adweek.