Why executives see Cannes as a worthwhile investment

Apparently, it’s not just an excuse to spend part of the summer on the French Riviera.
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Richard Bord/Getty Images

· 4 min read

It can be hard to think of an excuse to visit the south of France on a company’s dime, but each year, thousands of marketers from around the world make the hard decision to fly there to spend time on the beach and drink rosé with their peers.

Attending Cannes Lions can come with a hefty price tag, depending on how much a company chooses to spend on its presence at the festival. So in 2023, what makes the investment worth it? We asked executives across the industry to share why they attend, what value it provides, what makes the festival unique compared to other industry events, and more.

Keeping a pulse on the industry

  • Joy Robins, global chief advertising officer, the New York Times: Cannes is always an incredible opportunity to hear from marketers and hear from the industry, what’s on their mind, so that feedback loop is incredibly helpful.
  • Nina Mishkin, director and head of Americas brand strategy, Snap: This is an opportunity for me to break out of my Snap knowledge and what I talk about every day and go get inspired by looking at what are other brands doing, what other platforms are doing…I think it’s incredibly important for anybody who’s in the industry, who thinks of themselves as a marketer in a creative space at all, to have these dates on your calendar where you take your blinders off a little bit from the day-to-day work we all have to do and get inspired, get curious, ask questions.
  • Beth Wade, global CMO, VMLY&R: We believe it is important for clients to be at Cannes to see how creativity across all types of advertising—from traditional brand communications to innovative product development—is driving brand growth and reputational success.
  • Winston Binch, chief brand and experience officer, GALE: The marketing industry’s contracting following explosive growth coming out of the pandemic and AI’s ramping up at warp speed…At a time like this, I can’t imagine a better place to be when it comes to imagining and thinking about where our industry goes from here.

Building relationships

  • Laurel Rossi, CMO, Infillion: We really want to be seen as a company that is central to the conversation among creative directors and media decision-makers. So for us, [Cannes is] a must-go.
  • Ryan Detert, CEO, Influential: When people ask, “Why spend thousands of dollars to fly out and stay in France when you can see a lot of these people in New York or LA or Chicago?” It’s really because when you’re all in this experience together, you’re all enjoying the finer things, depending on where you’re staying at, and really having thoughtful conversations around media, measurements, creators.
  • Mark Singer, CMO, Deloitte Digital: Cannes is a place where business doesn’t get sold, but business gets done. You meet partners, you meet your clients, you meet your client’s friends, you meet people that you could be working with, and so it’s a huge opportunity to build better relationships and more meaningful, sustainable business relationships.

Inspiring creativity and creating content

  • Judy Lee, head of global brand experience and programs, Pinterest: The worst thing you can do for marketers and agencies is have the same kind of meeting you could have back in New York, back in Paris, back in London. So we’re like, “Let’s have more experiential tours, let’s do things that are less about someone presenting 50 slides to you on the beach when you’d rather be doing fun things and being inspired.”
  • Nina Mishkin, director and head of Americas brand strategy, Snap: We bring a lot of what happened at Cannes—the narratives we shared, the creativity, the exhibits like the Disney work we’re doing—and then bring them back with us when our teams come back from Cannes, and then they can take that to different clients and different teams who maybe weren’t able to be on the ground.
  • Beth Wade, global CMO, VMLY&R: The breadth and depth of presentations, partner engagement, creativity on full display is like no other conference in the industry. It gives everyone unparalleled access to the best the industry has to offer.
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