The great and the good of the advertising world were out in force for Cannes Lions 2023 as the ‘Home of Creativity’ celebrated its 70th anniversary. With entries up by 6% on 2022 and a strong revival of humor in the awards categories, there was a palpable sense that the week-long event in the French Riviera was back in full swing. 

Download Cannes Lions Decoded

Fresh from the Croisette, the team at VML Intelligence caught the talks, panels, and seminars from the main stages at the Palais and beyond, to bring you this round-up of the key themes, topics and trends that emerged from this year’s event. Download the report here, or see a snapshot of the big talking points below.

The AI Revolution

WEB AI AI Revolution TW1 9242 Wg Yj Jdf S S Gml KP Fr, singer and founder of Cannes Lions 2023, Getty Images

Generative AI has captured imaginations in 2023 and was the buzz topic at this year’s Festival. Experts predict that it will be a real gamechanger, not only supercharging creativity but also starting to deliver benefits at a societal level. At the same time, brands must proceed with caution, with an eye to ethics and responsibility.

The most important ingredient in AI is not AI, it's humans. This is the greatest creative opportunity in our lifetime.

Robert Wong

CCO of Google Creative Lab

The Equity Gap

WEB Equity TW1 8864 txw6 Pyu R d Obgz6 Ge
Danai Gurira, Actor, Playwright & UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, Cannes Lions 2023, Getty Images

Despite commitments and pledges, there’s still a long way to go to on inclusion. Brands have a powerful role to play, from shaping culture and society to actively carving out opportunity and making space for marginalized groups. It's time to step up and start genuinely delivering on equity.

You are who creates culture and you have the power to evolve it.

Danai Gurira

Actor, playwright, and UN Women ambassador

Bringing Back the Funny

WEB Funny TW2 8753 i Mt N73la Ur PR8q Ht
Kevin Hart, Cannes Lions Entertainment Person of the Year. Cannes Lions 2023, Getty Images

After a few years in the wilderness, humour is back with a bang. Laughter is a powerful tool for brands: it increases engagement, retention and even intent to purchase, yet in the era of pandemic and purpose brands shied away. Now, in the era of the joyconomy (as predicted in this year’s Future 100) there’s an open invitation for any brand to bring back the funny.

People want lightness and joy. It’s okay to be funny when it’s about sustainability. We choose laughter over lectures.

Christina Bauer-Plank

Global Brand Vice President, Hellmann’s and Dressings, Unilever

A-List Creators

WEB A L Ist Creators TW1 1589 jzobgxqe kgaxz C Hr
Alex Cooper, host of the Call her Daddy podcast. Cannes Lions 2023, Getty Images

Celebrities have always held allure for brands, and in recent years many have built deep, authentic relationships with their fandoms. But as the boundaries between branding, content and entertainment blur, celebrities are going beyond roles as ambassadors and endorsers and flexing their own creative muscles.

Things that once upon a time were just Kevin Hart opportunities and based off of my likeness, have grown into brand specific and company-specific growth opportunities.

Kevin Hart

Cannes Lions’ Entertainment Person of the Year

The Social Paradox

WEB Social Keith Lee and Alexis Frost
Tik Tok food influencers Keith Lee and Alexis Frost. Image courtesy of Chipotle.

Amid the hype about AI and its future potential, a few voices drew attention to a powerful brand opportunity that is right here, right now under our noses. Social media commands an engaged and creative audience of billions. Yet brands face a conundrum; this opportunity comes with a side order of concerns over brand safety due to its impacts on discourse and wellbeing.

Our industry is changing and before you all try to go figure out AI, why don’t you try to figure out how to actually story-tell where the consumers’ attention is.

Gary Vaynerchuk

Founder and CEO of VaynerMedia

Climate: with a small ‘c’

WEB Climate SEB 1936 SS1 LC9 Xl
Tyler LaMotte, Marketing Director EMEA, Patagonia. Cannes Lions 2023, Getty Images

There was a quiet, fringe conversation on climate this year as many steered clear of the potential scrutiny and backlash, yet new research shows that sustainability can amplify brand messaging. This is an opportunity for bold brands who are authentically striving to respond to the issue.

Without a healthy environment, there are no shareholders, there are no employees, there are no customers and there is no business.

Tyler LaMotte

Marketing Director EMEA, Patagonia

Download Cannes Lions Decoded

Please provide your contact information to continue.

Before submitting your information, please read our Privacy Policy as it contains detailed information on the processing of your personal data and how we use it.

Related Content

An AI generated image of a blimp-like reflective metal building with soft curves. On the front of the building there is a big white Nike logo tick and a glass door. The building is located in a red Martian-like landscape.

AI: Direct-from-imagination

Welcome to the direct-from-imagination age where anything we can imagine; AI can help us generate.
Read Article
HERO F100 2023 cover

The Future 100: 2023

Our annual forecast of 100 trends to watch in the coming year.
Read Article