As the Advertising Industry Changes, Cannes Tries to Keep Pace

Particularly around inclusivity and allowing consultancies to attend the event

As the industry changes, Cannes also continues to evolve. OMD Worldwide
Headshot of B. Bonin Bough

Author, consultant and TV host, Bonin Bough, is our Adweek Advisory Board chairman. He will be spotlighting Advisory Board members each month on relevant industry news and trends.

I spoke with Florian Adamski this month about his thoughts on creativity and everyone’s favorite industry event at the Palais: Cannes Lions.

Florian, who is the CEO of OMD Worldwide, is certainly well-versed in the world of marketing and agencies. He’s spent the 2000s bouncing from agency holding companies to startups to a few companies he himself founded in media, ecommerce and more. He spoke on the ways that Cannes can improve and what we might see at this year’s event.

Bonin Bough: What’s one thing you think Cannes can do to be more inclusive?
Florian Adamski: If we’re speaking inclusive in the macro sense, as in more people at every level being able to attend and from agencies both large and small, cost is certainly a factor. I think the organization needs to come up with a way to lower the per capita cost of attendance. In terms of underrepresented populations, I think that is something that has to begin with the agencies themselves and what we are doing to assure a more diverse talent population.

What’s something people who go to Cannes can do to help with that as well?
Given Cannes is a representation of clients’ and agencies’ boardrooms, it’s worthwhile to look around at the events you attend and the work on display. If you’re not seeing diversity, it’s probably no coincidence. Remind yourself that you will likely be among the 2% of leadership that can actually affect change.

How are consultancies changing up the vibe and priorities at Cannes, if at all?
They have pushed agencies to up their game in terms of making the most of our time with clients and partners. Cannes being the epitome of the wider industry has become a runway of capability and competence more than parties and beach life. Senior advertisers in attendance will want to genuinely learn and grow. If you can’t feed into this agenda, you will become irrelevant.

In what ways are consultancies changing the face of advertising, if at all?
They have reminded us that agencies do not have an inherent right to exist. Act accordingly.

Are brands starting to see more of a benefit to attending Cannes? If so, how and in what ways?
I think as the industry has become so much more complex, brands see more value in events that bring all players across the ecosystem together in the same place, whether that’s Cannes, CES, WFA or other global events.

Should companies send rising stars in addition to or instead of the same execs? Why or why not?
It’s the blend that makes an event like Cannes a worthwhile experience. Enthusiasm is no substitute for experience, and vice versa.

What sort of trends have you been seeing in creative creation? Are these positive or negative?
We witness a journey from gut-driven creative to data-driven creative. Done in isolation, neither one is the right answer. When seeking the sweet spot of how to create a fair value exchange with consumers (aka humans), we should not only think about what we technically could do, but what we should do. I would call that empathy-driven creative, and it encompasses such traditional notions as moral, sustainability and trust.

Bonin Bough, a former digital executive at Mondelez International, is author of the book Txt Me and host of CNBC's Cleveland Hustles. He is also a member of the Adweek Advisory Board.