4 Trends we spotted at Cannes 2023

This year’s Cannes Lions fell on an electric moment in creative industries. Mostly in part to the fact that the buzzword du jour, AI, is actually buzzing. Compared to ambiguous trends like web3 and cryptocurrency, AI packs a real punch. It’s not just promising to transform the industryit’s already doing so.

But Cannes isn’t just about trending topics. It’s about celebrating remarkable ideas, tapping into the creative collective, and taking the temperature of consumer culture. In doing so, here’s what our team noticed.

1. Short-term performance marketing is killing long-term performance

Creative Director Brad Getty was struck by two insights. First, man buns are out. Second, while performance marketing ads may increase sales in the short term, they actually devalue brands in the long term. You may recall the 2022 study from Meta which found that 60% of ROI from studied marketing firms came from long term ROI. That’s a significant percentage to risk by leaning too heavily into quick gains. The recipe for success, learned Brad, is a multi-pronged approach that includes both performance marketing and allocating resources to projects that bolster the brand, like TV spots.

2. Generative AI will not replace good ideas and taste

None of us can peer into a crystal ball and reveal exactly how AI will play out. Rather than fiddling with what-if’s, it’s best to jump right in. Make mistakes, have fun. Models like ChatGPT and Midjourney are not competitors to humansthey’re tools to enhance human creativity. In other words, a hammer can’t build a house without a hand. The sooner your team makes this mindset shift and begins experimenting, the sooner they’ll begin producing better work.

3. Sustainability still reigns

Recent extreme weather events like wildfire smoke and floods in major cities have left little space for ignorance towards the changing climate. The time for sustainable innovation in all industries is now. As thrilling as advancements in tech may be, the projects that steal hearts and minds are those that provide ingenious solutions to what feel like insurmountable problems. On stage, Gold Lions were awarded to a number of ecologically progressive campaigns like Heaven Fish, Shellmet, Mosquito vs. Mosquito, and more. Meanwhile, off stage, agencies were targeted by climate activists for working with fossil fuel clients.

4. If you want to push past generic solutions, dare to brave local taboos

Often the most memorable campaigns are those that reflect the truths of specific communities. Sometimes those truths aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, and that’s where the untapped potential lies. Chief Creative Officer Kris Manchester co-hosted the Cannes seminar Unimagined Cultural Solutions which explored examples of this very idea. Co-panelist Kentaro Kimura of ACPAC presented #NoBagForMe, a Japanese campaign that challenged the cultural phenomenon of Japanese women buying their tampons in paper bags to avoid embarrassment. A similar campaign titled Touch The Pickle won the Cannes Grand Prix in 2015 for engaging with a cultural taboo in India. On our end, SKYN’s entire MO is working with taboo; occasionally to the point where it gets our Instagram banned in the US for an entire month. But hey, we’ve never been strangers to breaking a rule.