Having recently been to a Cannes Lions round-up talk, I thought I’d share with you my key take-out points.

For those not be familiar with the Cannes Lions Festival, it is a global festival for the creative industry that recognises and showcases the very best in talent. The ‘Round Up’, presented by Patrick Collister, Editor of Directory and a Creative Director with Google’s creative thinktank, The Zoo, was – by his own admission – a selection of the most interesting ideas at Cannes from the 1000 strong winners.

Patrick also discussed the shift in the festival’s direction over recent years, to cater for the changing face of the advertising industry. Advertising no longer refers to printed media, TV or radio – the boundaries between advertising and the use of social media to address social issues are becoming more and more blurred, as we seek to influence audiences from a different perspective.

One of the questions asked about Cannes was “is it worth it?” Is it worth the time, effort and above all the cost? – Making around €21m in entry fees, is this money well spent for the industry, the agencies or their clients? Well that’s debatable – as is the question of whether winning an award is either. Is there a measurable element to success? The short answer is no. One thing that winning an award does get you though is respect from your peers and recognition within the industry – so maybe it is all worth it?

However Cannes is not as it used to be. There has been a shift from it being a festival for the advertising industry, to one that could be seen as being for the ad industry’s clients. It is now broken down into a number of smaller ‘festivals’ – each having a different focus. One being; “Lions Innovations”, which is dedicated to innovative start-ups. Start-ups, which are finding niches in the industry to offer dedicated services to ‘clients’ directly. In effect bypassing agencies all together.

Anyway – it’s not all doom and gloom at Cannes. Amongst everything that’s going on there are still some great, interesting ideas coming out of the industry. There was a noted move towards less traditional forms of advertising and a continuation of blurring the lines of what constitutes an ‘ad’. As well as a marked move by many brands to address social issues and worthy causes, whilst getting their brand in front of people.

So what makes a great ad I hear you ask? Well before I answer that you need to be reminded that advertising is no longer confined to print, TV or radio as is traditionally thought of. It’s far more fluid than that. We talk about blurring the lines and this is just as relevant when talking about the traditional sectors of advertising, marketing and PR.

So what’s the answer? – Well anything, as long as it captures the audience’s imagination, starts a conversation or has people sharing the life out of it on social media. The fact that there is a brand associated with it is in some ways incidental. If it is something that is worthy, addresses a meaningful social issue or has people in hysterics and wanting to tell everyone they know about it, it has done a better job than most TV, radio or print ads will ever do. We live in a modern world, where consumers (you and I) are becoming numb to traditional forms or advertising. We’re influenced far more by people and driven by social change – this is what is selling brands today and the industry is catching on to this.

Check out some of the Cannes winners I found particularly interesting by downloading my powerpoint here (245MB), I’d love to hear your thoughts on Cannes you can get in touch by tweeting @leighfelstead.

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