Talking Points
November 2018

Themes and Trends at Cannes Lions 2018

themes-and-trends-at-cannes-lionsAt the Cannes Lions marketing awards this year, big tech dominance and diversity were on display. Some of the prominent themes included social activism, transformative innovation, inclusion and diversity, and channel innovation. In its highly emotive campaign The Talk, for example, P&G explored the history of racial bias in the United States. Google’s campaign My Line, meanwhile, featured the transformative roles voice assistants are having on rural areas trying to access the Internet.

Several trends also seemed to emerge at the festival. Here’s a brief overview of six new trends gaining momentum.

  • Artificial Intelligence
    Few buzz-phrases have been bigger than artificial intelligence, or “AI,” in 2018. German newspaper The Times, Adobe, and Microsoft, among others, all made news with AI-related products, campaigns, and talks.
  • Influencer Backlash
    Yesterday, it was celebrity endorsers. Today, it’s celebrity influencers. Social influencing is now a highly commercial machine, with influencers commanding millions of dollars for their stamp of approval. Recently, however, a black market of social influencing has been exposed by investigative reporting. Several Cannes presenters spoke about bots, fake followers, diminishing trust, and the damaging backlash from customers.
  • China Tech
    China had a huge presence at Cannes, illustrating the rising global influence of its tech brands. The country, known for its innovation, is now becoming a leader on the world stage. An entire day, in fact, was devoted solely to Chinese technology as well as its media partnerships and marketing campaigns.
  • Gender and Diversity
    The #MeToo global movement, as you might have guessed, was front and center. Panels explored topics such as redefining Miss America and masculinity in the modern age. Other talks touched on female harassment, gender, intersectionality, accountability, and the influence that social media has on each one.
  • Sound
    Voice assistants weren’t the only trending use of sound making headlines at Cannes. Bongiovi Acoustic Labs introduced its new, low-cost, 3D-printed digital stethoscope that records sounds for diagnosis. And Soundbranding hosted a session on sound design in today’s quieter vehicles.
  • Big Tech vs. Government, Creativity, and Humanity
    Finally, here’s something you knew would eventually come. There was a lot of chatter about the threat technology poses to humanity. The Economist hosted a debate on the topic. Also, Scott Galloway—author of “The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google”—gave a keynote speech entitled The Break-Up of Big Tech.

Based on Cannes Lions 2018: Trends and themes by Lucie Greene.

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