Get ready for Cannes 2018: Hot topics and what to see

With the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity kicking off in three days, here’s your run down of all the hot topics up for discussion at the first festival since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Sir Martin Sorrell resigned from WPP and the #MeToo movement was born.

Cannes Lions

It’s fair to say there’s a lot to discuss at the 2018 edition of Cannes Lions.

This is, for example, the first festival since it was revealed data from 87 million global Facebook users had been harvested by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. As a result, expect data security, digital effectiveness and the ongoing issues around media transparency to take centre stage in the discussions at Cannes.

This is also the first festival since the birth of #MeToo, the global campaign which has given rise to a new movement aimed at raising women’s visibility and shining a spotlight on sexual misconduct in advertising. Known as #WomenCannes, the group is calling on women working in agencies to wear black during Cannes in solidarity with global movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp.

READ MORE: Ad industry comes together to tackle sexual harassment

The growth of consultancies and their impact on agency/client relationships is another topic bound to dominate conversation, as heavyweights such as Accenture and Media Link shake up the old order and question the viability of the established holding companies.

Then there are the disruptors like shared office space startup WeWork, whose chief growth officer David Fano will take to the stage on Thursday, 21 June to discuss the evolving world of work. His talk will come just a week after WeWork announced it had doubled sales during the first quarter of 2018 to $342m and produced a $35bn valuation for its business, making it the world’s second most valuable startup after Uber.

Wake up with the Economist

The Economist Group is poised to return to Cannes with a new series of daily ‘Wake up with The Economist’ CMO panels, which this year will run alongside ‘The Economist Big Debate’ chaired by its editor-in-chief Zanny Minton Beddoes and an experiential campaign promoting The Economist’s Open Future initiative.

The stellar line up taking to the Cannes Beach include Samsung Electronics America CMO Marc Mathieu, Andrew Clarke, chief marketing and communications officer at Mars, and Johnson & Johson consumer CMO, Alison Lewis.

Reimagining retail

Retail in the UK has taken a battering over recent weeks with announcements that House of Fraser, Marks & Spencer and New Look are all retreating from the high street, making the idea of a retail revolution very well timed.

Cue Angela Ahrendts, senior vice-president of retail at Apple and the woman who, as CEO of Burberry, led the fashion house through an intense period of digital transformation.

Responsible for Apple’s physical stores, online store and contact centres, Ahrendts has integrated the tech giant’s physical and digital retail businesses in a bid to create a seamless customer experience for the brand’s more than one billion annual visitors.

In her talk on Wednesday, 20 June Ahrendts will share her thoughts on reimagining the retail experience through “humanising technology” and committing to invest in physical stores.

Storytellers or data lovers?

Is marketing a science or an art? Diageo hopes to settle the age-old debate by explaining how it is leveraging the creative legacy of brands such as Guinness and Johnnie Walker to help the whole portfolio grow faster through innovation.

Diageo CMO Syl Saller and global consumer planning director, Andrew Geoghegan, will discuss how they are driving growth by creating great work that cuts through in a world where every penny counts and marketers must define their own role in the pursuit of innovation.

READ MORE: Diageo to introduce ‘social contract’ to improve its relationship with agencies


Tech giant HP has teamed up with Cannes Lions on a pilot scheme to support racially and ethnically diverse talent. The #MoreLikeMe programme aims to “turbocharge” the careers of high potential people of colour working across HP’s five main agencies – Gyro, BBDO, Fred & Farid, FleishmanHillard and Porter Novelli.

Three candidates have been selected from each agency to take part in the programme at Cannes, which will be followed up with a year-long mentoring scheme. Facebook has also joined the pilot by submitting three of its employees, taking the total enrolled on the #MoreLikeMe programme to 18.

On Tuesday, 19 June Antonio Lucio, HP chief marketing and communications officer, will explain more about the pilot and share his views on why diversity is a business imperative.

Sorrell’s return

Fresh from his departure from WPP, Sir Martin Sorrell is set to take to the stage on Friday, 22 June for a “candid discussion” about the marketing issues of the day.

The session comes just two months after Sorrell abruptly stepped down as CEO of the agency giant, 33 years since founding the business, in the midst of an internal personal misconduct investigation into improper behaviour and the misuse of assets. He has since been accused of using WPP cash to pay for sex workers.

While these allegations are unlikely to be topics for discussion, Sorrell could well share more details about his new investment venture S4 Capital, which has already raised £51m in its goal to become a “multi-national communication services business” and built on acquisitions. Watch this space.

Read all  of Marketing Week’s Cannes Lions 2018 coverage, sponsored by MiQ, here.