Greg Jones & Leanne Scott

Cannes Lions 2024 felt like a turning point. Not just because of the lively debates and the jaw-dropping creativity on display, but because it feels like the industry is standing at a crossroads.

The festival highlighted a critical juncture for the industry, where existential questions about the impact of AI, the purpose of purpose, and the relevance of our work were being asked. Simultaneously, it was a celebration of the power of creativity in all its forms. Let’s dive into five takeaways that will drive cultural relevance for years to come.

1. The impact of AI

Artificial Intelligence was a hot topic, sparking both excitement and concern. While the industry grapples with AI’s potential to disrupt and enhance, we saw inspiring examples of its positive impact. 

Take Mars Petcare’s Pedigree Adoptable campaign, which uses AI to help shelter dogs find homes–a reminder that AI, when used thoughtfully, can create meaningful, positive change. The message was loud and clear; embrace AI rather than fear it – it’s the future.

Busy street scene with eye-catching billboard showcasing premium dog food brand for pet owners. Billboard reads "Meet Tiny. Adoptable. Near you."
Courtesy of Mars Inc.

2. The power of humour

Let’s just say that humour is back, and it’s here to stay. In times of uncertainty, a good laugh can go a long way. The ‘Ketchup and Seemingly Ranch’ campaign, inspired by Taylor Swift, had everyone talking…and laughing. 

Brands that can tap into humour and absurdity are seeing significant engagement and brand loyalty. Heinz, for example, was at the forefront of the conversation having leveraged consumers’ irrational love of their products to create hilariously effective ads that have rejuvenated the brand.

Heinz ketchup bottle next to a tray of fried chicken. Bottle label reads "Ketchup and seemingly ranch"
Courtesy of Heinz

3. Investment in brand platforms

One of the biggest takeaways from Cannes Lions 2024 is the power of sticking with what works. McDonald’s gave a fantastic example by showing how they tap into cultural truths to sell more Happy Meals, French fries, and Big Macs. They say it’s all about consistency and really understanding what resonates with people. Instead of always chasing the next big thing, it’s smarter to build and nurture brand platforms that are rooted in truth and insight. 

McDonald’s success shows that when you double down on what works, you can evolve it to stay relevant and engaging. It’s a lesson in being steady, smart, and a little bit savvy – all of which can lead to enduring success.

3 people sitting on stage with screen in background showing McDonalds Golden Arches M logo and other graphics
Convince Your C-Suite: The Real Impact of Creativity

4. Creativity in the C-Suite

We also learned that it’s crucial for the C-suite to truly understand the value of creativity, especially in times when budgets are tight. Here’s the thing: creativity isn’t just about making things look good – it’s about driving top-line performance and ensuring long-term cultural endurance.

Take Snoop Dogg’s viral Solo Stoves campaign or the heartfelt Amy Winehouse documentary. These are prime examples of how creative storytelling can profoundly impact brand success and relevance. A C-suite needs to look beyond short-term gains and instant results. By planning for bigger, longer creative campaigns, they can build a lasting connection with their audience and drive sustained growth.

Simply put, investing in creativity pays off in the long run.

5. The evolution of DE&I

The conversation around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is evolving from a box-ticking exercise to a fundamental aspect of business strategy. Sinéad Burke, CEO of Tilting the Lens, underscored the need for true inclusivity. 

This means creating opportunities for DE&I talent both in front of and behind the camera. It’s about moving beyond tokenism and ensuring that diverse voices are genuinely represented and heard. This shift is essential for brands aiming to resonate with a broader audience and foster genuine connections.

One person on stage with big screen behind them showing them on the cover of Vogue Magazine
The Importance of Taking up Space: Sinéad Burke

And finally…

Cannes Lions 2024 wasn’t just about the glittering parties and big-name speakers; it was a celebration of creativity and a deep dive into the industry’s future. While we stand on shifting sands, the opportunities are vast for those who remain open-minded, agile, and optimistic.

Embrace AI. Double down on brand platforms. Elevate creativity in the boardroom. And champion true inclusivity. If nothing else, make them laugh – because in the end, laughter might just be the best strategy of all.