Throwback Thursday: Cannes Lions themes over the years

By Abimbola Mohammed

Established in 1954, Cannes Lions is a global campaign for creativity, with the International Festival of Creativity as its epicenter. Though 70 years old, the festival has continued to wax strong and attract higher equity rating amongst industries and their operators.

Each June of every year witnesses the gathering of about 15, 000 registered delegates from 100 countries who visit the festival to celebrate the best of creativity in brand communication, discuss industry issues and network with one another.

For every year, detailed interviews are conducted with more than 100 industry-leading Chief Marketing Officers, Chief Creative Officers, brand leaders, strategists and CEOs to structure the themes around the most business-critical areas of branded marketing and communications to drive the creative agenda of the festival, globally.

Here some of the popular themes at the Cannes Lions in the last few years:

The theme that shaped 2017 Cannes Lions

The Role of Creativity in the Economy, Society and Culture was a major theme at that year’s festival – reinforcing the Cannes Lions campaign for creativity as a positive force for business, for change and for good in the world. Other themes were: A New Power Nation, Diversity, Now that’s Entertainment, Mixed Realities, Access all areas.

Some of the focused areas in 2018 include:

Social Activism and Political Commentary, and Transformative Innovation with an emphasis on innovation with real impact rather than Tokenistic Change. Inclusion and Diversity featured as well. Channel Innovation was also a key theme.

Here is the topic that took center stage at Cannes Lions in 2019:

Embracing Inclusion, Equality & Diversity, Proving the Value of Creativity, Re-imagining Storytelling, Brands in Culture, Future-proofing creative Organizations, Winning in the digital Economy, Creative Strategy & How to Reach the Reluctant Consumer. Others include: The New Rules on Brand Purpose, Creating Exceptional Consumer Experience, Trust, Ethics & Transparency.

The themes that shaped 2020 Cannes Lions programme were:

Creativity is the Business Growth Engine; Creative Disruption in Commerce; Post-purpose: Brand Accountability and Activism; Your Brand is my Experience; Looking to 2030: Making your Business Future-fit; Applied Creativity: When Data, Tech and Ideas Collide; Storytelling at Scale and Let’s Get Back to Brand.

2021 themes include:

How COVID-19 has Changed Everything, Coping with a Crisis, It’s a Journey, Not a Destination, Build Back Better, Will Brands Still Save the World?, Are you Stalking Me?, A fad or the Future? The Vanilla Content Issue.

Some of the focus areas in 2022 include:

‘It Pays to Be Green’: How can Brands Deliver on Sustainability in a more Authentic and Impactful Way? ‘Represent the Under Represented’: Improving the Translation of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Creative Work, ‘A Renewed Focus on Talent’: Changing the Industry’s Approach to Serve the Talent of Tomorrow, ‘Ready Player Two?’: How can We Cegin to Balance Big Data, Tech and Creativity?, Reframing Creative Effectiveness: Ideas as Investments, Learning to Measure the Value of Creativity in a more Efficient Way, ‘Re-imagine, Reinvent and Re-build: It’s Time for a Factory Reset’.

2023 themes include:

Signal Loss, Collaboration, Personalization, Streaming, Inflation, Climate Change

2024 expected themes are:

Impactful Creativity, Taking Risks, Must-have Skills, Innovation, andThe Rise of the Creator economy.


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