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5 Strategic Ad Takeaways from Cannes 2024

June 28, 2024
Yanina Erman

Sun, sand, and seriously smart marketing. Cannes Lions 2024 delivered the goods. Top minds from advertising and marketing gathered for a week of deep dives into the future of the industry. Here's a breakdown of the 5 key themes that dominated the conversation:

1. Accelerating Creative Connections

This year's official theme focused on the importance of strong connections in marketing – with customers, employees, and communities. The emphasis is on creating personalized and engaging campaigns that resonate with audiences.

2. The Rise of AI

Generative AI (GenAI) and its impact on marketing were hot topics at Cannes Lions 2024. Discussions centered around AI development as a shared responsibility and how AI can be used for creative content generation. Rob Reilly from WPP emphasized the transformative potential of creative technology, stating, "What's been pulled out of our business is time and money. Creative technology has brought that back. We're getting time back, and that's room to experiment and fail. And that's what we need."

3. Focus on Diverse Audiences

At Cannes 2024, there was a big emphasis on connecting with diverse audiences, especially Black consumers. It wasn't just about ticking boxes—it was about authentically representing people's real experiences and values in marketing. The discussions showed that when brands get this right, it's not just about reaching more people; it's about building genuine trust and loyalty. It's about making sure everyone sees themselves in the stories being told.

4. The Power of Commerce

Commerce media networks and shoppable experiences were emphasized, with companies like Instacart exploring ways to make every surface shoppable. 

5. The Future of Sports and Entertainment

Sports marketing was a hot topic, with discussions on the rise of women's sports and global league expansions. The conversation also highlighted Spotify's entry into video and the future landscape of entertainment marketing.

According to Angela Ruggiero from Sports Innovation Lab, "By 2050, I think women's sports will eclipse men's sports. The market doesn't currently reflect their true value. There's pent-up demand, and the industry needs to adjust. Sports, particularly led by women and athletes, is poised to drive significant growth."

Fall in Love with Advertising Again

The advertising industry is at a pivotal moment. The insights from Cannes Lions 2024 highlight the need for a shift back to creativity, contextual relevance, and respect for privacy. At Smartly, we believe that with the right blend of AI-powered technology and creative thinking, brands can transform their advertising strategies, making ads fun, engaging, and effective once again.

Let’s bring the magic back to advertising.

Insights from Smartly’s sessions:

On the business of women’s sports:

  • "By 2050, I think women's sports will eclipse men's sports. The market doesn't meet the value right now. There is pent up demand, and the market needs to adjust. Sports is a great investment, but women and athlete-led in particular, is going to continue to push the industry" Angela Ruggiero Sports Innovation Lab
  • "Business is business, but when you have good people, business can be personal. And that builds security and trust with the athlete. When I choose a deal, it's about deciding if a brand really cares. " Flaujae Johnson

Embracing Technology to Fuel Creative and Team Collaboration

  • "What's been pulled out of our business is time and money. Creative technology has brought that back. We're getting time back, and that's room to experiment and fail. And that's what we need" Rob Reilly WPP
  • "Creative technology allows us to think about the division of time, making sure we're storytelling everything in the right way, but reaching scale and the audiences we need to" Jo Shoesmith, Amazon
  • "It's an exciting time, there is a feeling anything is possible as technology is advancing, there is an incredible need for feelings. It's a beautiful marriage we're figuring out" Chaka Sobhani DDB

Unlocking the Power of Effective Creative: 

  • "There's more room than there's ever been to test and learn. Moving from the lower funnel to the mid funnel - that's actually quite exciting for creatives." Toby Horry,TUI
  • "A new era, balancing creative effectiveness and data, now there's an opportunity to embrace that." Traci Alford

Inspired by the Olympic Torch Relay, we held our own celebration in honor of championing the future of women's sports.

  • "Brands aren't just doing it to check a box or to be popular. It's to build their business. If you can show that it can be a thriving, profitable growing business, then you can break through some barriers that are incredibly important for society. Brands and partners who get that are special." Jessica Berman National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) Inspiring fireside with Laura Desmond moderated by Meg Linehan

The power of bringing picture storytelling to brand filmmaking:

  • "The key thing is to create a protectorate around the film, so it's a gift. It's not a secret advertisement, it's truly a gift from the brand of telling a story that needs to be told." Ben Proudfoot
  • "It's the art of knowing, It's easy to say what I want, it's sometimes very hard to say what I need. The art of brand building is all about knowing. It's about them being understood without feeling manipulated." Laura Desmond 

The Power of Creativity 

At Smartly.io, we believe in the power of creativity to transform brand-consumer relationships. With AI-powered technology, it is possible to place creativity at the forefront again. By doing so, brands can stop the scroll, entertain, engage, and inspire consumers to take action with ads they see as content.

Stop the Scroll

Ads should be as engaging as the content consumers seek out. By leveraging AI, brands can create dynamic and personalized ads that capture attention instantly.

Engage and Entertain

Great ads do more than just inform; they entertain. By focusing on creativity, brands can produce content that resonates emotionally with their audience.

Inspire Action

The ultimate goal of any ad is to inspire action. Whether it's making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or sharing content, ads should motivate consumers to engage with the brand.


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