It’s impossible to catch everything at Cannes Lions, but WARC’s content team can point you towards the good stuff you might have missed.

WARC’s content team spent Cannes Lions 2019 tracking down relevant sessions for marketing strategists (both on the agency and client-side). We interviewed judges of the Creative Effectiveness and Creative Strategy Lions. And, of course, we presented the seven sessions of ‘WARC Day’ in the Palais.

So across five packed days of sessions and meetings, what did we learn?

There’s no shortage of Cannes wrap-ups out there, but they tend to focus on trends in creativity and industry politics. So we thought we’d pull together some of the themes most important to strategists, based on what we’d seen and heard.

You can read the report here (WARC subscribers can also get it here). The seven areas we highlight are:

  1. Strategy is evolving in the age of experience
  2. There is a crisis in creative effectiveness
  3. Judges want to see impact beyond the short term
  4. CMOs want action on brand safety, and data on brand purpose
  5. Media owners are talking up ‘context’
  6. Accessibility and inclusion are feeding into brand strategy
  7. Emerging categories hold lessons in brand-building

The first point on strategy in the ‘age of experience’ is particularly interesting to me. After our annual survey of strategists found a sharp rise in ‘experience’ work I hosted the annual Future of Strategy debate on this topic with three excellent speakers: Harjot Singh of McCann Worldgroup EMEA, Deirdre McGlashan of MediaCom and Dom Boyd, previously of Publicis London.

What struck me was that they all saw ‘brand’ as a starting point for talking about customer experience. In an age of customer-centricity and personalisation, the need for a central “organising idea”, as Boyd put it, seems to be growing, not disappearing. And there is clear pushback on the idea of ‘one-to-one at scale’ as the future of marketing.

That echoed some of the conversations we’ve had with brands recently. As the work of Les Binet and Peter Field picks up traction with clients, we’re increasingly being asked about how brands can return to brand-building – what that means in 2019, and how to invest in it. It’s a shift from the tech-focused discussions of the past few years, and a topic we’re going to return to in some of our post-Cannes analysis.

You can see the full Future of Strategy debate (plus our other excellent WARC Day sessions) on our sister site The Work, and we’ll be featuring it on WARC soon too. There’s also a quick snapshot of what the judges thought of Volvo’s Grand-Prix-winning case study in the Cannes Strategy Lions.

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more from Cannes Lions: we’ve already published case studies from the Creative Effectiveness Lions; we’ll be releasing full reports from the sessions mentioned in this summary via our event reports feed; and we’ll be publishing our annual analysis of the effectiveness papers.

And if you haven’t downloaded it yet already, check out the white paper we launched last week: Anatomy of effectiveness.