Cannes Lions 2024: Industry Insights and Highlights from Marcomms Leaders

Cannes Lions 2024 brought together the brightest minds in marcomms, showcasing groundbreaking ideas and innovative campaigns. We spoke to industry leaders in attendance to learn their key takeaways and the most memorable events and activations from this year's festival.

Elizabeth Harrison, CEO, H&S

Elizabeth Harrison, CEO, H&S and Leah Chandler, CMO, Discover Puerto Rico, at Meta Beach

“There are so many amazing panels, performances and activations making it hard to choose a favorite. A recurrent and interesting theme was D&I and woman empowerment. Dee Poku, the founder and CEO of The WE Suite, and Jessica Sibley, CEO of Time Magazine, invited me to a dinner for woman leaders and culture creators at the Hotel Martinez. Conversations ranged from the personal to the professional, from dishing with Cosmopolitan Magazine EIC Jessica Giles about sex and zodiacs to discussions with Spotify chief public affairs officer Dustee Jenkins. Jess and Dee pulled together an inspiring group of women – many who I continued to see throughout the week at the fabulous FQ Equality Lounge, created by Shelley Zalis.

“A highlight of the week was the panel our client Leah Chandler, CMO of Discover Puerto Rico, participated in hosted by Steve Barrett, EIC of PR Week, and Olga Flemming, the CEO of our sister agency partner MMC. Steven Pagnelli, CDME of Trip Advisor, joined the discussion about how to be an artfully disruptive storyteller in the travel space. Travel really has become a 'lifestyle' brand. Personally, taking a morning break to meditate with Jay Shetty and his inspiring wife Radhis courtesy of iHeartRadio. I didn’t realize that I needed to take a half hour to sit quietly and refocus.

“I probably spent way too much time at Meta Beach, but loved the new Meta Ray Bans that take photos and videos that we were gifted at yet another gathering of interesting and powerful woman executives. 

"Honestly, there were so many professional tips and words of wisdom, but what I really loved was the impromptu meetings on the streets, the fun dinners and cocktails on the fly and remembering that what we do can be fun and inspiring. Seeing so many old and new colleagues and friends was inspiring and a great reminder of how important it is to connect outside of the office and off Teams calls.”

Michelle Edelman, CEO, PETERMAYER

Michelle Edelman was a featured speaker at the ADWEEK House “Badass Bosses Luncheon” in partnership with She Runs It.

“In a time of so much world tension, the ad world wants you to just lighten the F up. From significant explorations of injecting humor into work, to authenticity replacing brand purpose as positioning initiatives for clients, and AI viewed as a playground and not a threat – we are collectively hungry for a respite from the heaviness that’s defined the last few years. It’s time for brands to get the credit they deserve for bringing joy into people’s lives.”

Liza Suloti, Co-Founder & Chief Communications Officer, SHADOW

Liza Suloti, Brian Vaughan, Brad Zeifman

“Our experience at the Cannes Lions this year was an extraordinary marathon of unique moments, experiences, and sparks of inspiration. My partners, Brad Zeifman and Brian Vaughan, and I immersed ourselves in every moment. We cheered on our clients – who are some of the most incredible thought leaders – as they took various stages. We attended countless events and panels and had meetings with media, brands, creators, and talent. Each encounter left us buzzing with ideas and inspiration. Amidst all this connection and creativity, getting a front-row seat to SHADOW’s Judge Beauty 360 campaign for the Big Game, presented on the Amazon Port stage to a captivated audience, was beyond incredible.

A takeaway that continues to circulate in our minds is ‘make the work matter.’ When thinking about the impact of storytelling for campaigns and brand work, it’s important to go beyond awareness building, buzz-generating, and the surface entertainment value. If you can identify true purpose, it can escalate the loyalty a brand gains from their audience, give depth to PR and Marketing strategies, and separate noise from longer-lasting work and impact.” 

Brian Feit, Founding Partner, BMF

The Female Quotient Equality Lounge

"BMF is thrilled with the three events we produced at Cannes Lions this year for marquee clients. The Female Quotient Equality Lounge was the talk of Cannes, with many proclaiming it was the organization's best space to date. At our event for Marriott inside the gorgeous Scalini restaurant, Jose Andres was a warm, welcoming star, and the elevated, elegant set-up provided a nice break from the rest of the wild events at Cannes. Finally, it was a joy to be a part of the Televisa Univision event, which carved out a space for Latin culture on the Croisette, with talent like Rauw Alejandro entertaining all those in attendance (including Jessica Alba).

"Some quick Cannes advice is to think ahead and do some recon to lock in a premium experience for yourself. In addition to making sure you’re on the right lists for the right parties and events, also be sure to find the events that aren’t over-subscribed or get to capacity too quickly. Because after all, no one wants to wait in a line at Cannes."

​Josh Rosenberg, CEO & Co-Founder, Day One Agency

Day One Agency

“There were so many highlights! Every year the Wall Street Journal House does a great job programming and this year was no different with the speakers they lined up. I really got a lot out of the conversation between WSJ’s Suzanne Vranica and Bill Ready, CEO, Pinterest. We also hosted a happy hour at Journal House and that was truly a highlight to connect with the Day One Agency community of clients, partners and friends in such a great setting. Another highlight for me was at COLLINS House where I attended a conversation between Scott Galloway and Michael Kassan. 

My biggest takeaway for marcomms coming out of Cannes 2024 is that a simple idea always wins. Walking the Palais with Jamie Falkowski, D1A’s Chief Creative Creative Officer, we were struck by just how all the shortlisted work was rooted in a clear consumer truth. One brand that sticks out here for me is Heinz, because all the work they were shortlisted for was so different executionally but all had the same consumer truth and when you look at it, you know it’s Heinz. A great reminder to fight for the simple ideas that will break through. Oh and when in doubt, my favorite quote coming out of Cannes from Zillow Group’s VP Brand and Product Marketing, Beverly Jackson: ‘Don’t be afraid to throw your body in front of a bad idea.’”

Susan Magrino, Chairman & CEO, and Mary Blanton Ogushwitz, Senior Vice President, MAGRINO  

Susan Magrino & Mary Blanton Ogushwitz via LinkedIn

“After four days on the ground at Cannes Lions, we can’t help but have a ton of takeaways and learnings to bring back to our team for exploration and implementation. So, let’s start with three big ones that continued to show up at a macro level throughout the week. 

1. BRAND: Brand is everything. We learned that practices change, but principles endure. Build and strive to work with brands that people or your team would miss if they were to disappear. 

2. PEOPLE: Investing in employees, trusting your audiences, and building communities - all people-centric concepts - are critical. At a festival where conversations of AI were everywhere, thought leaders went out of their way to stress how important humans are to all aspects and transactions for brands. 

3. CREATIVITY: Creative and many creative tactics will be automated…creativity never can be. Continue to seek out and work with people who prioritize the ways in which brands can grow not only through tactics, but through creativity.”

Greg Galant, Co-Founder & CEO, Muck Rack

PR executive roundtable at the Muck Rack + Ragan HQ

“PR’s starting to take center stage at Cannes Lions. It's clear that communications and marketing are working more closely and PR pros are being tasked with the more general question of, ‘How are we being perceived by the public?’ rather than, ‘How's our coverage in the press?’ PR firms like Edelman, Golin, Ogilvy and The Martin Agency were also some of the big award winners this year. All of this underscores PR's growing importance, its critical role in protecting brand reputation and its impact on the bottom line."

Susan Irving, CMO, Kruger Products

Susan Irving alongside the Canadian young marketers at Cannes

“If you have ever been to Cannes Lions, you know how overwhelming it can be. There are so many activities and so little time. I always joke by saying, “I saw everyone but no one and everything but nothing.” There are numerous activities at the palais and on the beach with media partners and vendors. You have to choose wisely among the many events you want to attend. Cannes Lions is a place where you really need to clone yourself to take it all in.

“Three reasons I love attending Cannes every year: to connect with like-minded people. To celebrate with our agency partners. To meet new friends and reconnect with old ones. To learn, discuss, and debate all the great ideas and how we can return home to inspire our teams to create and innovate, driving our business forward. I also love to support the next generation of marketing talent. As the Jury Chair for the Globe and Mail’s Cannes Young Marketers Competition, it brings me immense joy to see young Canadian marketing talent on the global stage. 

“The work. I love walking through the basement and attending the award shows to see the winning work. I was honoured to be on the Cannes Lions Sports Jury last year, and this year I served as the Grand Prix Jury Chair for the WARC Marketing Effectiveness Awards. The ideas and creativity used to solve business problems are mind-blowing. It inspires me every year to think differently about how to drive my own brands forward.

“The speakers. Every year, it seems like Cannes cannot top the speakers from the previous year, but they always do. The roster of speakers, including athletes, celebrities, CMOs, brand builders, entrepreneurs, innovators, and agencies, was best in class.

“How lucky we are to be in the roles that we have. My biggest takeaway this year is the power of creativity. Creativity not only solves business problems but also solves human problems. Brands that connect and move people will be the most successful in the long run. Whether it's sustainability or societal issues, brands can be a force for good.”

Amanda Henry, Vice President of Business Development & Women's Wellness, Therabody

Amanda Henry via LinkedIn

“This year, I had the incredible opportunity to attend the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. I was honored to speak at The Female Quotient on behalf of Therabody on the Generation Money Live panel, discussing Investing in Female-Driven Narratives. It was truly inspiring to witness women's leadership, narratives, and events taking center stage across sports, entertainment, and advertising at the festival.” 

Devika Bulchandani, Global CEO, Ogilvy via WPP

The Coca-Cola Company – supported by WPP global marketing partner WPP Open X – named Creative Brand of the Year for the first time in its history. WPP also regained the title of Creative Company of the Year, and WPP’s Ogilvy was crowned Creative Network of the Year. 

“It was inspiring to see so many agencies with unbelievable work this week. Our industry moves forward when we all come together to celebrate and champion the undeniable impact that creativity can have on our clients’ businesses and the communities we live in. I’m extremely proud of Ogilvy’s performance, but I am also incredibly gratified that collectively as an industry we proved that creativity always wins.”

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