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  • Writer's pictureNicole Ruskell

Cannes Lions 2023: Celebrating creativity and innovation

The largest companies in the world are back in Cannes for the Festival of Creativity, taking over the Croisette for a week of mind-expanding talks, fabulous concerts and legendary parties.


Cannes Lions Awards show at the Palais des Festivals. c. Cannes Lions
Cannes Lions Awards show at the Palais des Festivals. © Cannes Lions

For 70 years, the advertising world has converged in Cannes to celebrate the brightest and most innovative work in the industry. The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity returns for its 70th edition, from 19 to 23 June. This massive gathering of creative professionals is akin to the Oscars of advertising, awarding the most influential, creative, and ground-breaking work from around the world with Lion statues - the ultimate pinnacle in the advertising field.


Creative innovation is all around us, across all industries. For this reason, it takes a full 5 days to cover the breadth of work and award the top campaigns. As the curtains rise on Cannes Lions 2023, attendees can expect a curated program that pushes the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of luxury branding and communication. With a focus on cutting-edge technology, sustainability, and experiential storytelling, the festival will showcase how luxury brands are redefining their narrative and engaging a more varied audience in novel ways.

The festival's lineup features an array of thought-provoking panel discussions, captivating keynote speeches, and interactive workshops led by some of the most influential voices in the industry. Just a few of this year's speakers include: Ariana Huffington, David Droga, Gary Vaynerchuk, Halle Berry, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Lorne Michaels, Spike Lee, and Yanis Varoufakis. Local speakers include Camille Feret, President of the Côté d'Azur Film Commission, Sébastien Auger of Films06 and Founder of Adastra Films, and Thomas Depariente, Deputy Mayor of Cannes. These sessions delve into the latest trends, challenges, and opportunities shaping the world landscape, providing attendees with invaluable insights and inspiration to fuel their own creative endeavours.


A new award

One of the highlights of Cannes Lions 2023 is the highly coveted awards ceremony, where exceptional campaigns, innovative strategies, and outstanding creative campaigns are honoured across various categories. This recognition not only celebrates the brilliance of industry leaders and newcomers, but also sets new benchmarks for creativity and excellence in advertising. This year, Cannes Lions has announced the first honorary Creative Maker of the Year award as part of the 70th edition. The inaugural award will be presented to legendary filmmaker, screenwriter, actor and producer, Spike Lee. When the Festival was founded in 1954, the original Lion was created to recognise world-class creativity in TV and Cinema advertising.


Seventy years later, this award honours that heritage, and will celebrate an increasingly broad mix of creative makers who will bring ideas to life in the future. The award, supported by Black At Cannes, honours multi-Lion award winner Spike Lee, whose unparalleled body of work has made an indelible mark on filmmaking, television and the creative industry.


The CEO of Cannes Lions, Simon Cook, said of the choice: "...In our 70th year, it seems appropriate that the inaugural Creative Maker award should go to a director. It’s a huge honour to present Spike Lee, one of the most influential figures in contemporary cinema and culture, with this accolade live at the Festival. Spike embodies the spirit of this award as a maker that strives to make creative stories and show the world what they can only see in their imaginations.


As the founder of his own agency, Spike DDB, his mission has been to help brands change the world by keeping pace with culture. Alongside receiving the award, Spike Lee will speak on the Festival stage in a keynote fireside chat, with filmmaker and director, Barry Alexander Brown, on Friday 23 June 10:00 - 10:30 am.


Each evening, creatives from companies around the globe will take the stage, awarded Lions for their unparalleled ability to blend artistry, craftsmanship, and storytelling to create captivating and sometimes society-changing work. From immersive installations that transport attendees into alternate realities to captivating brand activations that seamlessly integrate technology, these brands will leave an indelible mark on festival-goers, solidifying their position as pioneers in the industry.

Spotify Beach at Cannes Lions 2019
Spotify Beach at Cannes Lions 2019

Beyond the professional program, Cannes Lions is also a glorious playground for those who work hard and play hard. The French Riviera provides the perfect backdrop for celebrating, with all the beach restaurants along Croisette are taken over by the likes of Google Beach, Twitter Beach, Spotify, Pinterest, and more. Exclusive yacht parties, private soirées, and surprise concerts prove that no expense is spared during this week.


Making a difference

Cannes Lions 2023 is not just a platform for showcasing the best of creativity; it prides itself on being a catalyst for change. The festival places a strong emphasis on using creativity as a force for good, with discussions and initiatives centred around sustainability, diversity, and social impact. The Sustainable Development Lions ask entrants to demonstrate how they contributed to or advanced the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development across people, planet, prosperity, peace and partnerships. All entry proceeds generated by the Award will be donated to SDG projects in consultation with the United Nations. Cannes Lions serves as a reminder that advertising is not just about selling but also about making a positive difference in the world.


Cannes LionsFestival of Creativity is a convergence of visionaries, disruptors, and game-changers who are shaping the future of society through their creative prowess and innovative thinking.


If you want to be involved, you can buy passes to attend or access the lectures in person, or virtual access to the festival including their immense library of "the work". Or, come to Cannes and stroll through the streets, chat with random sat the cafes... you never know who you might wind up meeting!


You can find the full programme of the week here.


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