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A Somewhat Irreverent Recap of the 2022 Cannes Festival

The 2022 Cannes Advertising Festival is over. The last hangover of the approximately 10,000 delegates has been cured, the latest deals have been cut, and the most impressive award winners have been celebrated.  Portada asked a few Cannes insiders about how the 2022 Cannes Festival went. Here is a somewhat irreverent assessment. 


The 2022 Cannes Advertising Festival is over. The last hangover of the approximately 10,000 delegates has been cured, the latest deals have been cut, and the most impressive award winners have been celebrated.  Portada asked a few Cannes insiders about how the 2022 Cannes Festival went. Here is a somewhat irreverent assessment. 

Despite very high travel costs (e.g. US $5,000 economy class trips from New York City to Nice) and many observers forecasting low attendance due to COVID, between 8,000 and 10,000 delegates attended Cannes this year. In 2019, pre-Covid, more than 12,500 industry delegates gathered in Cannes. “I saw less clients than three years ago, but still a good amount,” Eric Tourtel, CEO Latin America at Teads tells Portada. Tourtel adds that more executives from the creative side of the business as usual attended the festival this year. Among Latin Americans there were surprisingly large amounts of Central Americans, Colombians and Mexicans attending, and of course many Brazilians.

For the client side (brands) of the business and the sell side media platforms and tech platforms, the festival is, first and foremost, about developing and closing business. This is not so much the case for the creative side of the advertising industry, insiders tell Portada. Creatives want to win awards; it’s not so much about business but about having fun (remember Publicis pulling out of Cannes in 2018 because it thought it could make a better use of its money?).

To be “in” Cannes You Need More than a Ticket Purchase 

Even when you are on the festival grounds because you purchased a ticket you are not really “in”. A ticket to the Cannes Advertising Festival does not guarantee you that much access to interesting networking and meetings. Companies need to invest much more to gain access to buyers. (In the media world ‘buyers’ mean brand marketers.)
Below is the access and power pecking order media and tech companies invest in (from high to low cost):

1. Beach Takeover (e.g. Meta, Google). Companies take over beaches, with massive beachfronts installations to showcase their concepts and products (e.g. Meta’s Metaverse) and provide impressive presentations and fun meeting space. In 2022, and signaling the enormous rise of retail media, Amazon took over a portion of the beach front with the “Amazon Port,” its biggest showing at the Cannes Advertising Festival yet and a sign of the growing significance of industry relationships to its business.

2. Yacht: At a cost of approximately US$ 250,000 for the four days Cannes Advertising Festival rental, major ad-tech and other players rent a yacht. They then pack the yacht with senior brand marketing executives for client meetings and entertaining. (e.g. Teads, Taboola).

3. Rooftop rental in a Cannes Apartment Building:
Apartment building and hotel rooftops are close to the area of the festival and are a less expensive option compared to a beach takeover or a yacht rental.

4. The Villa rental. Villas surrounding Cannes are a bit further away from the epicenter of the festival and parties and meetings there are a bit less prone to be attended by delegates.

5. Tickets: Entry fees to conferences and award functions lie between 600 and 2,500 euros (US $600 to US $ 2,500 euros) depending on type of event to be attended.

(Another option is to fly in major music and show biz talent for exclusive performances. This is an alternative often used by Spotify who easily will spend more than US$ 3 million in this initiative.)

Cannes Advertising Festival: A Day on the Teads Yacht

The Teads Yacht at Cannes Advertising FestivalTead’s Eric Tourtel tells Portada that his company held 220 meetings in 4 days during the 2022 Cannes edition. Three years ago, pre COVID, the figure reached more than 300. The figures provided by Tourtel reflect how yachts turn into meeting and deal-making machines during the Cannes Advertising Festival. “Throughout the four days, we had 2,000 people in our yacht. Never more than 100 at a time,” says Tourtel. Yacht meetings are substantially better than other types of meetings (e.g. office meetings or virtual meetings). Teads executives can make presentations to brand marketers in a relaxed environment with a rosé wine in hand. After the meeting held in the largest room of the yacht, they will be able to have more informal conversations on the deck.
Sales executives of companies who don’t have the means to rent a yacht are often seen waiting on the dock close to the yacht entrance where they can approach the brand marketers entering or exiting the yacht.

Cannes Advertising Festival: What is Keeping Delegates Up at Night

  • The Macro Situation:  Brand marketers representing CPG, automotive and other sectors, are reporting supply chain issues (e.g. chips for cars or computers) that imperil their production processes, which, in turn, make their ability to market and promote their products more unpredictable. Supply chain issues, coupled with the current inflationary scenario and high geopolitical risks arising out of the war in Ukraine, do not bode well for growth in marketing and advertising during the second half of 2022. Overall, insiders maintain, advertising initiatives will become more outcome and performance based.
  • Valuation Implosion at Ad-Tech Companies. Publicly quoted advertising technology firms like Roku, The Trade Desk or Integral Ad Sciences have lost more than 50% of their stock market capitalization over the last 6 months. No wonder this development had a negative influence on the mood of ad-tech executives in Cannes, industry observers asked by Portada assert. The huge valuation decline also has an impact on the price and funding prospects of smaller non-publicly quoted ad-tech companies.
  • DE&I: Lots of Talk but no Walk (?)
    At Cannes, there were some presentations about the importance of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, yet while DE&I has become a major buzzword, insiders tell Portada that all the talk does not seem to be backed by real spending to communicate and promote DE&I objectives. Daneyni Sanguinetti, Director, Culture & Inclusive Marketing at Pernod Ricard, notes that she would have liked to have seen a more diverse speaker base, certainly on the main stages of the festival. She adds, however, that Cannes Lions Titanium awards did have a diverse winner base  (e.g. India).
  • Attention as the new Currency
     “Attention is the new viewability”, Teads’ Tourtel notes.  Attention measures the difference between an ad being visible and an ad actually be seen by the consumer. According to Tourtel, this turns the advertising conversation from an efficiency focus (cheapest option) to a focus on effectiveness (what works). Teads claims to be the first platform that has attention metrics integrated into its analytics.
  • Carbon Responsible Advertising, Online media is responsible for 4% of total carbon dioxide emissions. It is clear that soon there will be regulations to limit carbon emissions. Some advertisers including Chanel are starting to measure emissions.
  • Identity Solutions. The cookieless world – 60% of U.S. Internet traffic is already cookieless compared to between 15%-20% in Latin America – continues to be a crucial topic. In this context, CTV (Connected TV) and its contextual targeting solutions were highlighted as a viable option by several Cannes Advertising Festival participants.

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