Experts share learnings from Cannes Lions 2023

By Felicia Nwosu

As the euphoria and buzz created during the Cannes Lions 2023 Festival of Creativity continues to linger in the minds of the attendees and winners of various categories, some professionals at both local and international levels who believe in the power of bringing innovative practice into creativity have come to share their various learnings from the historic event that was held in France.

After exploring, learning and absorbing, some of them penned down on their LinkedIn pages lessons from this year’s festival which had the theme: “Balancing AI and Creativity at Cannes Lions 2023”. The theme revolved around the relationship between ‘Innovation’ and ‘Education’, which no doubt, underscored the imperatives of understanding the boundaries of AI while employing tools that drive innovation and imagination for the practitioners.

Commenting from the perspective of a jury during the milestone event, Adenike Odutola, a business executive and marketing communications expert with X3M Ideas, urged professionals to continue to aim for the best with resilience and unparalleled vigour. She encouraged African creatives to continue to push for cultural representation across categories, noting that, only then can they have the right perspective in the room when decisions are made.

“If there’s anything I want African creatives to take away from this year’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, it is that we have what it takes to dominate the marketing and creative industry globally. Having the opportunity to judge some of the most innovative, meaningful and impactful campaigns from all over the world, I know that it is possible and we can only make this a reality when we throw our hats in the ring,” she said.

Fehintola Odunayo Onajobi, a Senior Creative Strategist at Lifespot360, agreed that the 70th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Awards marked a momentous occasion for the global advertising industry, as a new entrant agency from Nigeria created history by clinching multiple prestigious accolades. She maintained that with the stage set for future success, Nigerian agencies are determined to make a lasting impact on the global advertising stage, cementing their position as trailblazers and shaping the future of the industry.

While applauding X3M Ideas for making such historical waves in attaining international recognition, she said: “The agency’s groundbreaking success at Cannes Lion sparked a wave of excitement and inspiration within the country’s advertising landscape. It served as a catalyst for other Nigerian agency professionals, motivating us to push boundaries and redefine our industry standards.

“The win also drew international attention, shining a spotlight on the untapped potential of African creativity. Agencies should leverage this momentum to refine their skills, enhance their creative output, and capitalize on emerging trends. The newfound confidence and recognition have propelled Nigerian agencies to expand their global footprint and aspire for even greater recognition at the upcoming 2024 Cannes Lion Awards.”

Alexia Adana, Creative Director at Edelman who explored and internalized every bit of the session recalled what each speaker’s point meant to her.

“As creatives, we’re always exploring, learning, and pushing boundaries. AI was a hot topic among sessions, workshops, and panels. Many were inspiring, but 3 quotes stood out to me the most. During a live recording of “Pivot”, Scott Galloway stated,
“AI is not going to take your job. Someone who understands AI is going to take your job. This is your lightsaber. This is your bazooka. Start playing with AI, generative AI, and really understand. This supercharging of creativity is the most exciting aspect of AI for me,” she said.

Abhishek Jadon, Global Head of Media Partnerships, Innovation & Marketing Capabilities at Pepsico, revealed that his take away centred on the fact that it doesn’t come as a surprise that AI was at the heart of all discussions.

“As I reflect on my experience at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, I feel energized and confident about our future and its impact. It is an obsession with efficiency and ROI is really dangerous in marketing. While a lot still needs to be defined and resolved, what struck me is the magnitude of this disruption. I think it could be a great multiplier of creativity, an enabler of agility, and a connector to bringing data, media, and performance together (E2E).

“As content is becoming media, and media is becoming content – the role of contextual targeting and the importance of ‘attention > impression’ is heating up, particularly ahead of the cookieless world that is being ushered in for 2024. The importance of building consumer communities by leveraging the purpose of your brand to drive engagement is going to become a differentiator – but we need to approach it authentically and with a long-term view.  I feel our owned (IP) data strategy is going to be a key accelerator to this,” he said.

Meanwhile, for an advertising service firm like Teads, its takeaways bothered on creative effectiveness, and what brands can do to improve ROI. The agency urged all to never give up creativity for effectiveness, emphasizing the need to level up and educate everyone as AI will be part of everyday creative development.

“If we can draw on AI and come to see it as a value add, we will have more time to think about creativity and take our campaigns to the next level. It is critical to keep listening, and using the insights you glean to guide the brief, optimize your content and keep creativity thriving. For global campaigns, the key is trans-creation, not translation. Rather than expecting an idea to translate directly, focus on making a good idea creative and culturally relevant.

“AI is a tool to elevate the creative journey. As the industry adapts, our approach to staffing will have to adapt too.  Focus on developing ads that can integrate with the natural movement of the page but still grab attention, or even add to the consumer experience. It’s better to be good than loud, and with non-interruptive ads, it can take up to 50% less time to generate the same outcomes,” the agency said.


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