Bonjour! A warm welcome back to an in-person 2022 Cannes Lions festival, the Davos of advertising.

Festivities were suspended during the pandemic but, this year, it’s back with a bang, with a mind-boggling 290 jury members, furiously judging over four heady days on the sparkling Cote d’Azur – that perennially sunny place for shady people.

Now, awards events are in a bit of a slump currently, you may have noticed. Oscars, Emmys, BAFTAs, Grammys, Brits – you name it, they are all experiencing a bit of a fallow period, with plummeting viewing figures and a general shrug of disinterest from audiences. Less “FOMO”, more “meh”.

Lions’ evolution

Mindful of the increased need for relevance in our TikTokky, Snapchatty age, the Cannes folks have a few tricks up their haute couture sleeves:

 

Post-Zoom connection

All of which begs the question – in the hyper-digitised metaverse in which we live today, is there any point in such an analog event as a peer-judged awards bash?

For some old hands, Cannes will always be the perfect excuse to cane the expense account while tweeting how “proud” they are of their network’s haul of awards.

But, even for the more enlightened sorts, there are still plenty more pragmatic reasons to attend.

Cannes remains the primary venue for networking in the global creative industries and, with two years of Zoom isolation, there’s a lot of catching up to be squeezed in to just four days.

Creativity’s expanding universe

Also, note the shift in nomenclature to “creative industries”. It’s no longer just about advertising, and hasn’t been for a while now. Of course, those same old hands will go to their grave waxing lyrical about their famous 30-second spot, but the smart money understands there’s a lot more to creativity than just advertising these days and the lines are increasingly blurring.

From NFTs to Abbatars to podcasts to immersive VR to interactive 360 experiences, there are more flavours of creativity than Boris has had parties.

Indeed, the organisers have cannily positioned this year’s festival as a “focus on the future”, suggesting they’re definitely not stuck in 1954, when the whole shebang kicked off.

With so many avenues for commercial creative application, it’s encouraging to see such a big tent approach being embraced by a leading body.

Competition in creativity

Importantly, Cannes still provides a source of genuine inspiration, as well as powerful stimulus to get the competitive juices flowing amongst the Creativatti. There must surely be many a Lion won as a result of a loathed arch-rival’s success the previous year. Or perhaps all the creatives I know are just over-caffeinated?

 

Let’s face it, there’s still a definite lustre associated with a Lion sitting on your awards shelf. That is just the same for any winner of an Oscar, an Emmy or a Brit, regardless of declining viewing figures.

And if you’re still pining for the good old days, worry not. Even in 2022, there’s a membership tier called a “Yacht Pass”, allowing you to end each glamourous evening with an Espresso Negroni under the stars in the comfort of your floating gin palace, moored handily in the harbour. Just like 1986.

Ah, je t’aime, Cannes: the more things change, the more they stay the same.