Reflections on Cannes Lions 2023: AI, AI, and AI

July 06, 2023, 03:07

The 70th annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was back and better than ever, bringing together the most innovative and prestigious names in advertising, marketing, and creative communications. The week was dominated by conversations surrounding artificial intelligence, DE&I, sustainability, and creativity, with the Cognitiv team front and center at a few industry-leading panels. 

I was thrilled to be a part of a dynamic panel at Givsly’s Impact Hub titled,“Moving Beyond a Seat at the Table: Reflecting on the Progress of Promises Made.” The panel included purpose-driven leaders including Stacy-Ann Effs, Senior Director, Strategy at Hearts & Science, and Wendi Dunlap EVP of Business Intelligence and Audience Science at Mediahub; moderated by Cognitiv’s VP of Marketing, Justine Frostad. It was a powerful discussion around what it means to create more than just a seat at the table for women and marginalized communities in the advertising sector. 

Next up, Jana Jakovljevic, Cognitiv’s SVP of Partnerships, spoke at Medialink Beach on a panel asking “Next-Gen Innovation: Will AI Kill the Creative Star?.” She was joined by David Klein, President of Spectrum Reach, Natalie Schwartz, Head of Global Brand Marketing, Danilo Boer, Global Creative Partner at FCB Global and Partnerships at Canva, and Doug Frisbie, VP Global Business Marketing at Snap; moderated by Sosti Ropaitis, EVP at Medialink. The conversation discussed creating equitable change in the workplace, the integration of AI in platforms, and the power of all identities in our field. 

Below are some of the key takeaways I found particularly valuable.

Creating More Seats at the Table

Creating opportunities for women, especially women of color and queer women, to thrive in the advertising world is vital to a company’s success. Despite our unique workplace experiences, each speaker on our Givsly panel  seemed to agree on one key theme: it’s great that women are finally getting a seat at the table, but it’s for naught if we’re not being fed. In male-dominated sectors like AI, data analytics, and adtech, having women in positions of influence is more than giving them a vanity title.  

We all agreed that a lot of women in this industry tend to undervalue themselves in the hiring process as well. It’s essential for women in higher positions to make themselves available as mentors and for young women rising through the ranks to seek out trusted individuals and communities that they can be authentic with. Other themes that were  echoed were the importance of respecting yourself by setting boundaries, being bold enough to ask the tough questions, and even the value of getting a therapist.

Lastly, while there is progress being made with more women of different backgrounds and identities having positions of leadership in companies, it is important that companies take steps to make sure those voices are being valued, heard and respected. Women and marginalized communities need to have more space in the workplace where their perspectives are empowered across the board. This is important especially for those who are in positions of power to keep in mind in order to check their biases and see where they can support. 

AI is Here to Stay

Artificial intelligence has solidified its place within the technology world. Its ability to be programmed into everyday tasks has proven to increase efficiencies, especially for advertisers and marketers. While many people believe AI could eliminate jobs, the truth is: AI still starts and ends with the human touch. In order to be used effectively there needs to be a human inputting relevant information and correcting its outputs. Creatives are mandatory in the process of content creation to enable the technology and add context to what is created by AI. That being said, in the near future AI will no longer be a hot topic because it will be so ingrained in our daily lives. Every platform will find a way to streamline its processes with new AI integrations. Now is the time to stop resisting the advancement of this technology and embrace it. 

Connecting with Consumers

Our priority as marketers is looking to form long-lasting connections with consumers. Our job is to learn what our customers are most interested in and cater to that. Deep learning and AI have proven time and time again to make this objective 100x easier and more effective, helping to run research on consumer behaviors for more targeted and personalized advertising campaigns. Rather than casting a wide net based on algorithms, we can personalize based on interests. This technology can also make content creation seamless and less time-consuming, as seen with generative AI platforms. In addition, we need to remain wary of the overproduction of content. Just because AI can make content creation easier, does not mean that we should overwhelm our clients with content. What will always matter most is creating advertisements and content that is relevant to our clients’ target audience. 

What’s Next on the Horizon

All in all, Cannes provided a refreshing glimpse into the present (and future) of AI’s impact on advertising, marketing, communications, and creativity. At Cognitiv, we’re proud to usher in the next generation of inclusive marketing leaders paving the way forward for innovation in advertising. 

Last year was all about the metaverse; this year, AI was everywhere. The consensus was a general curiosity about how companies can use it, rather than questioning its necessity. However, not all AI is created equal (i.e. not all deep learning is machine learning, and vice versa). In order for brands to succeed in implementing AI into their marketing campaigns, a stronger emphasis on education needs to be a priority. 

Another priority we should not lose focus of? The importance of DE&I in adtech. Amid Cannes’ 70th anniversary this year, the community was especially vocal about diversity and inclusion needing to remain competitive in this fast-changing world, as reported in Adweek. As my fellow  Givsly panelists pointed out, let’s not settle for getting more women at the table – let’s reconstruct the table entirely. 

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