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High flying thoughts from Cannes Lions 2017


Last week JustPremium were high flyers at the Cannes Festival of Creativity. We love extreme sports so we hired a center on the Majestic Barriere, close to the Palais on the Croisette, and gave visitors a thrill with some of our favourite water-sports, including parasailing and wakeboarding.

Click here to check out the pictures of our week here

Aside from the extreme networking 100 feet above the Mediterranean, or bouncing around in the speedboat below, we had an unrivalled opportunity to take the pulse of the industry from both the suits and creatives’ perspective, plus the tech companies and their commentators in the media.

Aside from the heavy security and blistering heat, what we saw and heard was agreeable and can be crystalised into three insights.

The “existential angst” among agencies

Entries to this year’s awards were down 4% and Publicis announced it would pull out of all award shows in 2018. Online publication Quartz calls this a sign of “existential angst” in the advertising industry.

One reason, and why some agencies think events such as Cannes no longer send the right message, is that they are in danger of being disinter-mediated by Facebook and Google. After all, both platforms give anyone with a credit card and and an internet connection the chance to create and deliver advertising globally.

Whether that communication is effective is another matter, and this was a subject close to the hearts of our clients when we met on or above the Riviera. The high impact and rich media advertising we offer gives ad agencies the opportunity to take back control of the creative process, while giving advertisers more choice in terms of products and ad units they can buy into.

This is a point I also made in a recent blog post. Digital advertising creativity still lags behind it’s more glamorous and longer established peers, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

More creativity leads to more revenue

To that end, we fully endorse the calls made by Tham Khai Meng, global chief creative officer at Ogilvy, for more bravery from marketers.

This is something he originally talked about as part of his New Year’s resolution when he said agencies needed to be bolder and create more ground breaking work.

In fact, as a McKinsey report released during Festival week shows, creativity pays dividends.
More agencies lauded at award shows perform significantly better than their peers.

However, McKinsey emphasised the need for creatives to not only provide “great ideas” they now need to provide “great experiences” too. What touch-points can you add, so that consumers engage with you?

The ad units JustPremium offers are designed to address just that. Not only do they give advertisers more scope for creativity they increase engagement as well.

Marketers want an alternative to Facebook and Google

The Facebook and Google duopoly is sucking the oxygen out of the online ad space, and as this Recode piece says, advertisers went to Cannes looking for an alternative.

This comes as both Facebook Video and YouTube experienced well publicised issues with some of the video content uploaded onto both platforms. Interestingly, the Recode piece highlights that the number three platform to Facebook and Google might not be Snap (difficult to miss in Cannes thanks to its giant yellow Ferris Wheel) or Twitter, but content providers and media brands, which can ensure ads are shown in the “appropriate context.”

Again, that is a solution we offer. The 2,500 publishers connected to JustPremium offer advertisers a “brand safe space” and a degree of control Facebook and Google can’t provide.

Will we go again next year? Almost certainly. As Doug Ryan of Digitas LBi commented in his “haters guide to Cannes”, many of the criticisms of the festival are certainly valid. However, there are few opportunities where the industry really comes together globally and where you can share insights and ideas.

As Doug concluded, the main benefit is to “plug yourself into a broader network than you encounter in your day-to-day world”, a sentiment I shared hanging from a parachute floating over Martin Sorrell’s yacht.


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