Impressions and snippets from the WARC team in the south of France at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. They do the hard work so you don’t have to …

Three years is a long time in media, and so it proves in Cannes, where the port is dominated by Amazon – a company that barely acknowledged it sold advertising in 2019. TikTok’s presence (a cabana and a small apartment, both beside the Palais) belies its growing importance to the advertising ecosystem, but the app has gone big with its creator workshops. Talk from the TikTok exec team is of the need for brands to learn a “new muscle” – i.e. creativity “at scale”. More immediately, keep an eye out for TikTok-branded bucket hats up and down the Croisette.

You can tell a lot about ambitions from who is advertising at the biggest of advertising festivals. Following the years of the tech takeover and the conquest of the consultancies, the pandemic took us back to home truths: now it’s the humble TV making a glorious return to the Croisette in the form of Ampersand, jointly owned by the three largest cable operators in the US. And it’s not only TV remembering its place in the mix – retailers are out in force in their new guise as fully fledged, full-funnel media and shopping platforms. Maybe everything is indeed becoming an advertising opportunity. 

Back in the Lumière, Nike’s new ad runs the gamut of elite performance, from athletes completing a sub-2-hour marathon to modest clothing that enables Muslim female athletes to compete at the very highest level while observing their beliefs. There was applause for a brand that’s happy to take the flak for truly original ideas.

The sun is shining in Cannes, but a grey cloud is looming on the horizon in the form of an economic recession – and also in the minds of leading marketers, if day one of the festival is anything to go by. David Rubin, CMO at The New York Times, is among the first to gently-word the prospect that the economy is not going to be what it has been as a major challenge in the next 12 months, and – perhaps more ominously – the fact that very, very few marketers have been around to experience what its like working in that environment. A lot has changed in the marketing world since the financial crisis in 2008. Steep learning curves ahead, perhaps?

And finally, spare a thought for the hardworking WARC/LIONS video team who set off for the south of France in June without thinking about the weather and got sunburnt on day one … Let’s hope the Effectiveness Show they were filming is worth their pain – you can see that on on Friday.