A wrap-up of Cannes Lions 2023

A wrap-up of Cannes Lions 2023

A wrap-up of Cannes Lions 2023

A wrap-up of Cannes Lions 2023

A wrap-up of Cannes Lions 2023

A wrap-up of Cannes Lions 2023

A wrap-up of Cannes Lions 2023


Satisfying the need for release

And that’s a wrap! While 250,000 festival goers descended on Glastonbury’s Worthy Farm in the penultimate week of June, the savviest amongst us were making their own trip 700 miles to the 2023 edition of the Cannes Lions festival. Swap England’s rolling hills for Cannes pristine beaches and Elton John’s show-stopping tunes for the enlightening series of talks hosted at the dentsu beach house and you’ve basically got the same thing, right? If you missed the action at Cannes, fear not, we’ve summarised everything you need to know below.

This year’s Cannes Lions showcased incredible brand creativity, remarking on tensions such as the need to embrace environmental sustainability, a focus on a more inclusive society, and the opportunities and challenges we are presented with by emerging technologies like AI. dentsu’s 2023 Rewind Report, which discusses the key takeaways emerging from the award-winning work and the discussions held amongst industry leaders on the Croisette, can be summarised into 5 leading themes:


Turning constraint into opportunity. 

This year’s festival featured a range of winning work whose creativity shined in response to constraints placed upon them, rather than despite of those constraints. A mental reframe, driven by a burst of creativity, was all that was needed to turn barriers into opportunities. One of our personal favourites was MEO’s work with Dentsu Creative and Amnesty International that raised awareness and funds for the families of migrant workers who suffered from human rights abuses while building stadiums for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.


Bringing analogue back into a digital world

As the industry continues to look for new ways to tackle complex client challenges and compete for ever increasing demands on consumer attention, many brands are returning to analogue solutions from the past to help inform the future. Some such throwbacks included AnNahar newspaper – a leading Arabic-language daily newspaper in Lebanon – printing defunct newspapers that were closed due to political pressures in their own daily paper to defend freedom of speech and dentsu Creative partnering with Activision in Taiwan to promote World of Warcraft through the native tradition of puppetry. Satisfying the need for release

Given the economic and socio-political turmoil experienced over the past year, it may be of little surprise that there was a recurring theme of escapism. In tough times, brands and consumers alike seek refuge in escapism and look at joyful content and humour to disconnect from economic pressures and social anxieties. Honest Eggs Co. – a regenerative egg farming company in Australia – equipped their chickens with a step-counter called ‘FitChix’ to address consumer confusion over terms like ‘free-range’, ‘open-range’ and ‘cage-free’. And in the new Entertainment Lions for Gaming category, Clash of the Titans were awarded the Grand Prix for their comedic mockumentary ‘Clash from the Past’, which celebrated the history of gaming.


Highlighting how data and tech-enabled experiences can solve for human needs

Given the explosion in interest in generative AI over the past year, it is of no surprise that much of the discussion at Cannes focused on how the increasing pace of technology innovation may affect human creativity. Responding to these concerns, a lot of the work showcased highlighted how technology is helping us to address human needs, rather than working in contrast with them; and how techn-enabled experiences and personalisation can combine to build the consumer journey that allows brands to evolve. One such example was Dentsu Creative’s work “Scrolling Therapy” with Eurofarma to support Parkinson’s patients. They designed AI that enabled patients to control their social media feeds using facial expressions that also doubled as facial therapy exercises, helping to slow the progression of symptoms of this neurodegenerative disease. 


Addressing a wider sustainability mandate

Finally, a recent dentsu consumer Navigator report shows a growing understanding of the holistic definition of ‘sustainability’–  a balance of environmental protection and restoration, social wellbeing and economic growth. A sentiment that is growing across the general population, but particularly  resonant among younger consumers. Cannes Lions brought together some of the greatest creative minds to explore the solutions we need for a more sustainable future and to celebrate the creative work that will inspire new, more sustainable consumer behaviours, while provoking marketers to reflect on and transform their own practices. Solar Impulse’s Prêt à Voter, which was heavily awarded at the festival, aimed to close the intent-to-action gap when it comes to consumer adoption of more sustainable habits. This French NGO produced a book where 50 environmental solutions were drafted as laws ready to be voted on in the National Assembly and sent it to all 577 members. Some of these resolutions have already been approved and others are included in the Assembly’s forthcoming agenda for discussion. 

The whole dentsu Rewind Report, including tips across all 5 themes for what your brand can do to tap into them, is available for download here

dentsu scooped 27 awards at the festival across 13 campaigns, including two Grand Prix, regional network of the year in APAC, and agency of the year in Tokyo. The full list of awards, with corresponding case studies, can be found here. For a day-by-day breakdown of the action, with further insights and highlights, and to sign up for the final wrap-up report, check out the dentsu microsite here. If any of the themes borne out of the festival particularly resonate with you or you want more information, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out to your client lead to start the conversation.