Lions Innovation: the evolution of Cannes

3rd June 2015

Ever since 115 advertising creatives got together in 1954 to look at each other’s best campaigns, the International Festival of Creativity has been about the most exceptional, inspiring and innovative work in the creative industry.

Forty years later, the internet happened and marcomms became more complicated. Cannes Lions went from being an awards show to being about the industry’s leaders getting together to learn. In 2004, its appeal broadened beyond advertising agencies, when one of the world’s biggest brands brought its entire global marketing team to the Festival for the first time. Our remit now encompasses the entire creative industry – we launched the Lion for PR in 2009.

This June, we’re about to see another significant evolution, with the launch of Lions Innovation.

As well as being the industry’s global meeting place, Cannes Lions has always been its mirror, so the rationale for adding this new two-day experience to the week is clear.

Innovative use of data and tech is now at the heart of creative communications. Three years ago, data was the big topic on the main stage of the Festival. Two years ago, it was all about big data. This year, it’s all about smart data.

The communications industry is having to rapidly work out how data and new technology fits into the creative world. Agencies are recruiting talent with brand new job titles, such as creative technologists, creative strategists and chief data officers, who understand how the two worlds can work together.

There are a million questions that need answering. How can data and analytics power the idea and the execution? How can emerging tech – from iBeacons to virtual reality to robotics – help brands have better conversations with their audiences? How can innovation help brands and their agencies come up with better insights, better ideas and better engagement? Can programmatic media really be creative?

Lions Innovation will bring senior marketers, strategists, analysts, creatives, technologists, entrepreneurs, investors and inventors together to ignite ideas that address these new challenges.

The Festival will really get under the bonnet of the latest thinking and developments: it’s not just about what shiny gadgets look like, but how their application in creative campaigns can benefit brands.

Lions Innovation will blend inspiring talks from industry game-changers with product demonstrations and networking events. Keynote sessions include thought leadership from NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge Program Executive, Jason Kessler, Nike’s groundbreaking CTO, creative guru Chuck Porter, and F1 legend David Coulthard. On the Discovery stage, delegates will experience live demos of the latest tech and data, and what they mean for brands and creatives. On the Experience stage, educational sessions will get right to the heart of hot topics such as data creativity, programmatic services and start-up partnerships.

In the run-up to the Festival, Unilever has launched its Foundry 50 competition to bring the top marketing technology startups to Cannes to “speed-date” with industry leaders. And, as always with Cannes Lions, the awards are at the centre: the expanded Innovation Lions and new Creative Data Lions will honour brave and brilliant creativity that enables, or is enabled by, data and tech.

The digital world is colliding with the world of creative communication in ways we haven’t seen before, at an unprecedented rate. We’re starting to see Grand Prix-winning work where data and tech are firmly embedded in brand storytelling, with tangible business results.

I hope that everyone who comes along to Lions Innovation will be inspired to do something cool, brave and extraordinarily creative. We’re ready to explore an exciting future for creative communications. Are you?

Lions Innovation takes place on 25 – 26 June 2015. For more information go to