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June 12, 2023 | By Mollie Cahillane & Bill Bradley

Level up your creative strategy with Sir John Hegarty, and leaders at TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, Walmart, Spotify, Hartbeat and more. RSVP and join Adweek Abroad in Cannes: The Business Case for Creativity at Whalar House, June 18–22.

Though upfront week focuses on the U.S. marketplace, Cannes Lions is where media companies think globally.

“There is not a single streaming partner that we work with that doesn’t have a desire to be global, if they don’t already have a global footprint,” said Kelly Metz, managing director of advanced TV activation at Omnicom Media Group. “Netflix has a global footprint; Disney+ has a global footprint; Paramount+ recently launched in multiple markets, going to the U.K.; Max laid out their entire agenda for global releases.”

So, to talk about that global presence, TV and streaming publishers are showing up at Cannes in a big way.

In its first year as an ad-supported platform, Netflix will take over the JW Marriott, hoping to create an interactive and immersive space for clients to engage with the platform’s most popular films and series.


Meanwhile, Roku, the largest connected TV platform in the U.S., will be camped out at its own Beach House.

“We’re excited to have that this year because we’re focused on letting our brand partners know and continue to drive home that Roku is the platform that is going to make their brand unmissable,” Rachel Helfman, director of Roku ad marketing and creative solutions, told Adweek.

Prior to former ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino departing for Twitter, an NBCUniversal spokesperson confirmed the company’s major Cannes presence to Adweek, saying that this year will focus heavily on the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris and the 50th anniversary of Saturday Night Live, in 2025. A buyer also confirmed to Adweek that SNL’s 50th anniversary would be a big topic of conversation.

Other companies not yet ready to share plans include Tubi, though a spokesperson confirmed the platform would have a presence at Cannes.

But just because publishers are talking globally, they’re not all looking to make waves during the week known for boats and bubbly.

Warner Bros. Discovery won’t do “splashy things” at Cannes, according to Metz. Instead, the company is sending its leadership team to conduct strategic meetings around capabilities.

Top-to-top meetings are one of the most important aspects of the festival, Metz said, allowing space for senior leadership and partners to connect and learn about the latest industry innovations.

It’s all part of the evolution of Cannes.

Cannes you keep up?

Now in its 70th year, the festival of old was more focused on “creative inspiration,” according to Amy Lanzi, CEO of Digitas North America. Lanzi, who’s been attending Cannes for seven years and, this year, is on the jury for Creative Commerce Lions, says today it’s more about “outcomes.”

“Amazon is a great example of how much Cannes has transformed,” Lanzi said, noting the company built out a 27,000-square-foot space last year and will have an even bigger presence this year. “Originally, it was much more around sponsored products, and now it’s about content to commerce opportunities.”

And with recent reports of Amazon adding an ad-supported tier to Prime Video, the company may have even more to share with marketers. However, when asked about its supposed ad tier, an Amazon spokesperson told Adweek, “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation.”

For its part, Disney will prioritize top-to-top, strategic business meetings with key global customers and partners, a company spokesperson said. (Adweek’s presence at Cannes will include our annual Brand Genius honors, which this year includes Shannon Ryan, president of marketing for Disney General Entertainment.).

“Cannes Lions always brings together the leaders of the media, technology, advertising and, of course, the creative industries on the world stage, so it’s a critical opportunity to connect with constituents across the industries we serve,” the spokesperson said.

The company is also looking to continue the conversation about how it can bring results and outcomes to clients through data, ad tech innovation and Disney’s Audience Graph.

Netflix plans to focus on client meetings and engagement, building off the company’s first upfront presentation and reinforcing its long-term goals to create a sustainable ads business.

Roku is also set to focus on 1:1 meetings with clients and partners at its beach cabana.

“It would be a miss for us, thinking of our long-term approach and strategy on how we’re going to make our brand partners unmissable, to not be at that creative and innovation festival,” said Roku’s Helfman.

The lion’s share of the market

Audience measurement will be among the topics of conversation throughout the week. The Joint Industry Committee, an organization led by Open AP, which is looking to create measurement certification and standardization, will be holding meetings at the festival.

“If I look back at what happened at Cannes last year, my most important meetings and commitments from partners were directly related to measurement and how we go forward,” said Omnicom’s Metz. “And I fully expect that to happen again this year.”


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