Cannesdidates 2017 – Wrap-up

James Paige and Noel Jennings

What an amazing experience.

Cannes 2017 didn’t fail to disappoint in all areas and what a year it was for Manning Gottlieb OMD. A gold, silver and bronze makes us the most awarded media agency in the Media Lions category. If that wasn’t enough, OMD won Global Network of the Year! The fact that we were able to be there during such a successful year was incredible and really goes to show what industry-leading work we are all involved in. So now we’re back, we’ve wrapped up our favourite bits.

As we mentioned in our first impressions, AI and data were the two biggest topics of conversation at Cannes 2017.  At the Baidu talk, they explained the importance of AI which was split into two main areas; image and voice technology. There were two great examples of using facial recognition technology, one for finding missing children and another in a pair of glasses for people with Alzheimer’s.  These glasses would identify the person and what relation they hold to the wearer, directly addressing the memory problems faced by those suffering. Baidu already use image recognition for payment in their offices but as you can see this technology has capabilities way beyond the media landscape. That’s what is so great about these advancements.

Whilst we’re on the topic of AI, everyone was talking about the incredible pace that it is currently progressing at and how beneficial it’s going to be for brands, but something that was very interesting was a talk held at the OMD Oasis tent with a few head marketers, including our very own Waitrose. Of course after relaying the benefits, they made some interesting points on how brands need to be cautious, pointing out that ‘we’re still talking to humans at the end of the day’. Machine learning is great, but brands need to make sure to retain the voice, tone and personality of their brand which could potentially get a little lost with a very heavy data approach.

Voice recognition has started to become a more natural access to information. Initially our main access to information was a PC using keyboard and mouse and this became simplified using mobile and touch. The next step is voice using AI such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. Interestingly it’s Google and Bing who are leaders in this space, as their smart assistants are backed by search engines and therefore have a much higher answer rate for questions. Oh – and Bing is bigger than you think, with around 870,000,000 searches made per day on the site. We’ve thought about it and ‘Bing it’ is catchy, don’t you think? We’ll let you decide…

As you explore the festival, there is constant showcasing of industry talent. Downstairs in the main conference hall, there is an exhibition of the work from around the world that has been shortlisted for award in the Cannes Lions. Walking around and reading the entries encourages you to think creatively. Understanding what it takes to be shortlisted at Cannes breaks you out of the day-to-day cycle and has really inspired both of us. Winner or not – being shortlisted shows that your work has been recognised at the highest creative level possible and that in itself is a huge achievement.

Walking along the promenade there were people demonstrating all kinds of different technology. One that caught our eye was the Pinterest Lens, where users could take photos of their current appearance and then had fitting product suggestions shown to them instantly based on the content of the image. It picked up on all sorts of things, such as facial features, clothing, accessories and hairstyles. Most of the suggestions that were shown were mostly modelled by someone, which was a nice touch – you could then select and be taken to purchase instantly. It just goes to show that consumer purchase paths are changing due to tech advancements, as people are constantly on the hunt for easier and more efficient ways to look for inspiration and make a purchase.

As well as this, the Virtual Reality HoloLens from Nokia played an advert through a VR headset and users were able to click on specific products and then at the end of the advert purchase them. Again, a great example of consumer purchase paths relying heavily on tech and how VR and lenses could become a part of everyday life rather than a cool toy for those tech savvies.

Amongst all the media madness, there are certainly a few celebrations to be had. The entire length of the Boulevard de la Croisette is laced with very familiar media faces, taking over sections of the coast to host beach parties and inspirational talks during the day. Past 5:30, the majority of the seminars are finished and that’s when the party side of Cannes really comes to life. Just like the talks during the day, it’s impossible to do it all as there are so many things going on at the same time. Don’t get us wrong – we certainly tried our best! Whether that be quickly moving from one talk to the other, or leaving that beach party so that we can get to that yacht party on time, it had us thinking ‘only in Cannes’.

Overall we can’t thank MG OMD enough for giving us the chance to experience such an event. The Cannesdidates competition really is one to get involved in, so make sure that you’re ready when the opportunity comes around next year. It’s tough, but a great experience and really gets the creative juices flowing. Not to mention the unbelievable prize.

Let’s hope that Cannes 2018 brings as much success for the OMD group as it did this year!