News & Views

Cannes Lions / Seminar Selection 2018

by Contagious Team

If you're heading to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year but feel overwhelmed by the huge list of seminars - we've got you covered. Choice paralysis is real, but we powered through it and created a list of must-see talks at the festival. We've kept it light on celebrities (sorry, David Schwimmer) and heavy on insights - so bring a pen and paper.


The Rise of Hackvertising
12.00-12.45; Lumière Theatre

Burger King has proved itself, year after year, as one of the bravest brands out there. The fast-food brand has tackled bullying, net neutrality and world peace, and has never once seemed inauthentic or out-of-place. How? By creating a system that allows them to break into a conversation and then launch a Burger King-style attack. This ‘hacker mindset’ is what BK global CMO Fernando Machado will be talking about with agency DAVID Miami in this session. ‘It will show how brands can hack into a specific zeitgeist to become a part of pop culture and deliver great results.’

The Death of Masculinity and its Impact on Creative Communications
13.00-13.45; Lumière Theatre

Masculinity – and the many things it means to be a man – has been a hot topic of conversation in the Contagious offices since we wrote our Axe brand spotlight almost two years ago. We’ve dissected what brands have contributed to the conversation, but in this session men’s studies professor Michael Kimmel will debate the role of men in future culture with Ru Paul’s Drag Race alum Violet Chachki and entrepreneur Amy Nelson. The panel, moderated by Faith Popcorn, will also discuss what this all means for creativity and brands. 

Androids, AI, and the Future of Human Creativity
15.00-15.45; Lumière Theatre

AI is going to steal our jobs, or is it? Computational creativity is definitely evolving, but the impact it’ll have on adland is still up in the air. We’re hoping that this session, hosted by Dentsu, will explain all. It's a big ask, but Osaka University professor Hiroshi Ishiguro knows so much about intelligent robotics that he managed to make a robot replica of himself a few years ago. Sadly his digital twin won’t be joining him on stage, but the panel will be joined by Totto, the ‘celebrity android’ built by Ishiguro, Dentsu and TV Asahi. 


Who wants to be human?
11:00-11:45; Terrace Stage

Contagious is presenting a seminar at Cannes - but with a twist. Our head of trends, Katrina Dodd, will be hosting the first ever Cannes Lions game show with Alan VanderMolen, international president of WE Communications. Real-life audience members (i.e. YOU!) will be pitted against the algorithms that run their lives. The goal? To find out whether big data is actually delivering the ultimate customer experience or just treating people like mindless bots. 

Think Like a Toddler
15.30-16.00; Debussy Theatre

When the North America CMO of Mondelez International holds a seminar on how to ‘cultivate a growth mindset’, it’s bound to get some attention. But what interested us about this seminar was the premise: ‘There are two types of mindsets cultivated from a very young age: one that assumes intelligence and creative abilities are innate and fixed, and one that views any challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow.’ We’re real advocates for challenging unconscious biases to encourage more dynamic business decisions – and it sounds like Mondelez's Jason Levine agrees with us.

Future Brands
16.00-16.45; The Forum

We have a massive crush on Glossier. In less than three years, and with just 24 products, the startup has become one of the biggest disruptors of the beauty industry. Not only has the beauty brand built up an incredible fanbase, it is also turning its most engaged customers into brand advocates to extend its reach. In this session, WGSN managing director Carla Buzasi will interview Glossier's president and COO, Henry Davis, to uncover the ‘secret to their success’, which sounds like absolute gold dust!


Founders’ Formula: Pioneering for Purposeful Growth
11.00-11.45; Lumière Theatre

No one does purpose quite like Unilever – and we're not just talking about Dove. In this session Keith Weed, Unilever’s chief marketing and communication officer, will be chatting to the founders of three brands that have been acquired by the transnational company. There’ll inevitably be a strong emphasis on purpose, but they’ll also be discussing the importance of creativity and how to develop creative that wins. 

How Data is Reinventing the Flatpack Empire
14.00-14.30; Debussy Theatre

It seems like Ikea gets cooler every year. As well as inspiring the masses with its hardcore sustainability efforts, the flatpack furniture brand has won loads of awards for its creative work. This session, however, is about the technological side of things. As a bricks-and-mortar retailer, Ikea has learnt to outsmart its online competitors with data – with some exciting results. In this seminar, Ikea CMO Claudia Willvonseder will be telling Daniel Bonner, Wunderman's CCO, and Paul McGowan, senior partner at Kantar Consulting, about new creative work inspired by a series of data experiments. We can’t wait.


Marketing to Deeply Polarised Societies
13.00-13.45; Debussy Theatre

Over the past few years, a lot of contentious issues have cropped up and split society right down the middle. This polarisation has obvious implications for society, but it also impacts brands. Trying to reach consumers on both sides of the divide is a fine art, and in this session Chuck Porter, founder and chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, will be discussing how best to do it with Pew Research Center’s director of political research, Jocelyn Kiley. They’ll go over helpful techniques and explore the psychology behind them – definitely an important one for 2018. 

Sex, Drugs, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Advertising
15.30-16.00; Debussy Theatre

This year was the first time a BBDO agency didn’t top our Contagious Pioneers list – and we were surprised. From Clemenger BBDO’s Meet Graham (which won two Grands Prix last year) to the Blood Normal campaign that Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO made for Bodyform (which we believe is a strong contender in a few categories this year), the BBDO network is killing it creatively. So it’s no wonder we’re suggesting you wait in line for BBDO Worldwide president and CEO Andrew Robertson’s seminar, in which he will explain the ‘scientific reasons why creativity and emotional content will always be king’. 


The Lion of St. Mark Interview: The Pandey Brothers
13.15-14.00; Lumière Theatre

It’s not often you get to see two creative-genius brothers together on stage, let alone creative-genius brothers as legendary as the Pandeys. The Lion of St. Mark winners are always high-profile –that comes with the territory – but this year’s interview will tackle creativity from multiple angles. Plus, there’s no better antidote to fifth-day-of-Cannes exhaustion than a great big boost of creative inspiration. 

Hieroglyphics: Pre-Historic Meets Post-Modern
15.30-16.00; Debussy Theatre

Culture is becoming more and more visual. Young people are communicating through video, rather than text, and Amazon has even built a voice assistant with a screen. In this seminar, Adam Leibsohn, COO at Giphy, will look at the history of communication and how imagery has impacted it. He’ll also explain what role new formats, such as the GIF, will play in the future of connection. Probably worth going just for what we expect will be a fantastically GIF-filled slideshow.

If you can't get to all of these seminars, or you aren't heading to the South of France at all this year, don't fret! We're building a one-hour briefing around the biggest insights and trends of the festival, based on seminar content, press conferences and interviews with jury presidents, festival organisers and influential CMOs. Book yours below.