The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is back this month, but what are people’s expectations after a two-year hiatus? It’s all about connection, industry figures tell WARC. Watch out for WARC's programme of content out this week - we're bringing effectiveness to the Festival of Creativity.

Nancy Smith, President and CEO, Analytic Partners

For me, Cannes represents an opportunity to connect with our global colleagues, customers, and partners in person for the first time in way too long. I am looking forward to hearing perspectives on the future of measurement, data and analytic adoption, as well as discussing the challenges brands and the industry are currently facing and how we can overcome them. As a celebration of creativity, Cannes also provides a unique chance to learn how data-driven decision making and creative excellence can come together to unlock growth.

Matthew Pover, Group Growth Officer, What’s Possible Group

My hope for Cannes this year is to see more diverse minds representing their own creative work. So, in allyship, I invited Cephas Williams to hijack my submission.

Cephas Williams, Founder, Black British Network

My first time at Cannes Lions, in 2019, I felt like the odd one out. You may not understand the importance of this and may feel the industry has the ‘diversity’ conversation covered. However, over years of driving change in this area I have found that many people preach a message of parity with people they have no proximity to. This year, I’ll be taking three Black creatives with me to Cannes and my hope is to take more Black creatives over time and practically use myself as a conduit to increase representation at forums like this. If nothing comes from us coming together with the world’s advertising elite and using our power and influence for good, then we miss another moment to turn empathy into empowerment and charity to change.

Becky McOwen-Banks, Executive Creative Director, VaynerMedia London

I am going to Cannes for the simple reason that it is back! I am also honoured to be a judge this year.

I’m looking forward to seeing a ton of inspiring work, meeting creatives and clients with brilliant ideas from all around the world, celebrating creativity on such a big stage, talking business and chatting nonsense all on the same day!

I am also hoping to meet creatives, young and old, who can share some amazing work. It really is the global opportunity where the focus comes onto the work we produce and it is applauded for the change it makes – be it for business or purpose. Seeing the difference that a great creative idea can make to a brand and their business is the reason I’m in the business and love celebrating that.

Melanie Welsh, Founding Partner, StratHouse

We’re strategists: a cohort not known for their constant socialising. But we haven’t been out for two years and it was getting a bit much, even by our standards.

I think sometimes people feel going to Cannes may make them look a bit frivolous, as if they’re not taking things seriously. But in our experience what breathes life into significant, far-reaching strategy is superb creativity; inspirational, thought-provoking, challenging creativity. We’re delighted to be meeting with clients at Dove, adidas and Kraft Heinz during the festival to celebrate their pursuit of this and to refresh our minds with the vital oxygen of new perspectives.

Lizi Hamer, Executive Creative Director, Octagon and No2ndPlace

Sport is a powerful platform to drive change. It’s been amazing over the past few years to see societal issues given voice and a platform through sports partnerships, teams, leagues, and personalities. Brands are truly embracing the deep connection to fans and the positive way to drive conversation and I can’t wait to see the creative expressions and ideas.

We’ll be talking about creative work that reimagines the traditional sport marketing landscape. We will be asking “is the work something that only sport can create and deliver”? Is the work contextually relevant, brave and does it truly add value to fans?

I’m excited to sit amongst an incredible entertainment jury at Cannes Lions, elbow-to-elbow with individuals who have been leading exceptional performance for brands. Together I hope to have great conversation and debates about how to recognise the world’s best creativity and championing the work that will pave the way forward for the global industry.

Louise Johnson, CEO, FUSE

As the largest festival for creativity within our industry, Cannes Lions is the perfect opportunity to recognise and celebrate exceptional work. It establishes a standard for the rest of the industry to aspire to or exceed. Seeing work celebrated motivates us all to better our craft and approach to client work, and it’s a fantastic showcase of what can be accomplished for those just starting out.

Creativity is a skill that should be particularly celebrated, especially given the current global climate. The work at Cannes Lions has been the backdrop to our lives in turbulent times over the years, and is recognised because it has created real change in the world. Partnerships, such as that between Colin Kaepernick and Nike, exemplify the power of creativity in our industry. It can only be a good thing to recognise this.

And, though it may seem costly at first, Cannes is actually a very efficient way to see lots of clients in one go. We have many internationally-based clients who we don’t get to see very much, so Cannes Lions is the perfect moment in the year where we come together to connect face to face.