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Cannes 2022 in 4 minutes

As Campaign’s Gideon Spanier wrote in a recent piece on why we should never write off the power of the TV ad:

“There is a reason why the Film Lions are awarded on the final day of the Cannes advertising festival. Film is still the most popular and talked-about category and continues to attract the most entries.”

At Thinkbox, we rarely write off the power of TV. But even with 300 official Cannes Lions sessions, hundreds more fringe events, tech giants jostling for space on a crowded Croisette, and Gary Vee, positivity about TV was never far from the keynotes, panels, roundtables, or afternoon chats in the Cote d’Azur sun.

On day one, it was reassuring to see an effectiveness session given a main stage spot in front of a largely creative crowd. WARC teamed up with the IPA for a triple-header featuring effectiveness experts Peter Field, Karen Nelson-Field and System1’s Orlando Wood.

This trio laid out their ‘Triple Jeopardy’, three threats to advertising effectiveness:

  1. Advertising is becoming more short term at the expense of longer-term brand building using established media like TV
  2. Online viewability metrics are failing advertisers, and attention to advertising is falling
  3. Creative has become more left brained and is limiting its ability to create mental availability for brands

It was a timely session that challenged the creative community to address these threats head on.

The biggest celeb name of the week was undoubtedly Ryan Reynolds – rare in being a celeb at Cannes that actually knows about advertising. He drew a full house in the Palais as he shared his journey from Hollywood A-lister to founder of marketing agency, Maximum Effort, whose hits include a Peloton spoof for his own Aviation Gin and a memorable TV spot for Match.com featuring ‘Satan’. 

His rallying call was to bring humour and emotion back to the forefront of advertising; how when times are tough, if brands can make people laugh, they’ll win their hearts and minds – a view recently supported by a number of creative leaders in the UK.

There was lots of interest in an appearance from Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, the streamer’s first showing on the Festival stage.

He was grilled on everything from the quality of current Netflix content, recent ‘freedom of speech’ controversies, and of course when the announced introduction of advertising on Netflix will happen and what it will look like.

A new, lower-cost, ad-funded subscription was positioned by Sarandos as a tool to acquire new customers who want to pay less. No mention though of how it will play out as a downgrade option for current subscribers, and what that will mean for overall revenue and growth. You can read Thinkbox’s take here.

Finecast, GroupM’s addressable TV arm, hosted a lively and fruitful round table to debate the ‘golden age’ of TV advertising – are we in one, are we not, has there ever really been one? – and to delve into their new research on attention, which echoed previous attention studies by finding that TV delivers one of the highest and most consistent levels of attention to advertising.

An esteemed group of advertisers and media and creative agency heads got under the skin of today’s TV – the shifting nature of viewing, the ever-growing capabilities of addressable TV, the pros and cons of personalisation, and the power of music and audio to capture attention.

Diversity & inclusion featured strongly throughout both the official and unofficial programmes at Cannes. One session hosted by European broadcaster RTL focussed on the accessibility of advertising for viewers, challenging brands to think about how those with sight or hearing impairments experience their ads.

The key takeout was clear: taking into account things like subtitles and audio description has to happen at the beginning of the process in the creative brief. A practical guide to access services in TV advertising has just been published by egta and is a great place to start.

As the week came to a close, it seemed fitting that the Film Lions Grand Prix was awarded to 4Creative’s multiple award-winning Paralympics spot, ‘Super.Human’– proof again that TV continues to push the boundaries when it comes to world-leading creativity.


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