Insights from Cannes Lions Festival to help marketers fuel creativity in their work

Ranging from the return to traditional craft techniques and the use of humour to an emphasis on creative effectiveness and the role of AI in advertising, this report summarises the key conversations that dominated Cannes Lions 2024

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New Delhi: In its wrap-up report, Cannes Lions has showcased the key trends and insights from this year’s Festival.

First, it highlighted the return to traditional craft techniques, embracing constraints and investing in robust research emerged as three strong themes.

The need for thorough research before execution came through loud and clear. “Go really deep into what you want to tell before crafting the shit out of it,” advised Alexander Schill, Global Chief Creative Officer and Partner at Serviceplan Group.

Across the stages were numerous calls for simplicity. Marcel Marcondes, Global Chief Marketing Officer of AB InBev, commented: “This is a human business – let’s make sure we put people first… Simplicity helps a lot.”

Simplicity in creative work isn’t only about how you execute your ideas: it’s also about your approach.

Secondly, it stated in the report that this year’s Lion winners and stage talks revealed big shifts in creative strategy, with relatability, heart and humour taking centre stage.

Winners at this year’s Festival showed how, with new-look celebrity partnerships, absurdist comedy and relaxed co-creation.

Comedy is making a comeback – and it’s leading to stand-out work that’s getting noticed. Four per cent of all entries in the new Use of Humour category across the Lions went on to win, higher than the global average of 3.1%.

Homogeneity is a creativity killer. The antidote? Embracing diversity of thought, leading with empathy and building new spaces for connection and collaboration.

Along with that, various traditional techniques were used in winning work – including illustration, stop-motion animation and even embroidery.

The Grand Prix winner for the inaugural Luxury & Lifestyle Lions, ‘LOEWE x Suna Fujita’, used animation to approach storytelling through a more human lens. The result of a collaboration with Japanese ceramic studio Suna Fujita, the hand-crafted stop-motion film brought the natural world to life, leading to a 35% increase in revenue for the Spanish luxury fashion house’s festive season. 

The accessibility of these craft techniques allows messages to resonate on a more global scale – a point made by Chaka Sobhani, President and Global Chief Creative Officer of DDB Worldwide.

There were multiple calls across Cannes Lions stages to mix it up and avoid dull work. That could mean building more diverse teams and cultures, hitting refresh on casting or switching mindsets.

Nick Law, Creative Chairperson at Accenture Song, emphasised that creativity “requires more than just one way of thinking” and offered three pieces of advice for building a strong creative culture: work with freaks, make scary stuff and “have some bloody fun”.

The case for brand building in a digital economy and new routes to effectiveness dominated this year’s Creative Impact stream, co-curated by LIONS and WARC.

Only 6% of the $750 bn spent annually on advertising is truly effective, according to System1’s Chief Innovation Officer, Orlando Wood.

AI is already playing a bigger role in creativity: it was used in 12% of all entries submitted this year. But while some of the innovation we saw at the Festival was based on AI, it was still human-inspired.

Technology is both friend and foe, said Sir John Hegarty, Creative Founder, The Garage Entertainment, at Cannes Lions. And despite some reservations about AI and what it might entail, innovation was in plentiful supply.

“This is the most interesting time in all of history. So enjoy the ride.” This was the advice of Elon Musk, Chief Technology Officer of X. Speaking in a packed auditorium, Musk predicted that next year will be pivotal for AI – but he also warned that there’s a one-in-five chance of AI going rogue and “something going terribly wrong”.

Cannes Lions 2024