Reflections on Cannes Lions 2023 from our Chief Marketing Officer

Reflections on Cannes Lions 2023 from our Chief Marketing Officer  

11 Jul 2023

Last month I returned to Cannes for another energising and inspiring week where the industry came together to learn and celebrate the creativity, talent and impact of marketing and advertising at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. 

Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2023, the festival and the many parallel stages that have now become just as big a fixture on the boardwalk, hosted lively conversations on the topics that remain at the forefront of our industry: inclusion & diversity, sustainability, and creative effectiveness. Some of our most senior Diageo marketers took to the stage as part of these conversations, sharing the work we’re doing to create a better world and business, whether it be through our progressive portrayal marketing, our sustainability training for marketeers, or the tools we use to enable creative excellence with precision. I was proud see so many of our marketing leaders speaking on these topics and showing the important industry-leading role Diageo plays. 

As well as joining some other panels and conversations during the week, I was delighted to speak on a Business Insider’s panel, sparking a conversation around ‘is your brand brave enough?’. I was incredibly proud to be able to speak to so much work our brands have done in ‘being brave’, from J&B’s work around ‘Rural Pride’ to Smirnoff’s latest ‘We Do We’ campaign, two pieces of work that truly celebrate inclusivity. Hearing from the other panellists and speakers at this event was inspiring, and a conversation that is so impactful at an event such as Cannes. 

One topic that captured everyone’s attention this year was AI and data. In my reflections last year, I said ‘data’ was the most underused word in the industry, and that has certainly changed. At Diageo our north star marketing strategy is creativity with precision, and AI is a critical component that’s driving our marketing effectiveness. As a drinks business, what I’m most excited about is how we’re using AI and advanced machine learning technologies to bring to life a greater consumer experience with our brands as well as driving efficiencies and environmental benefits in the production process. Hearing AI and data being discussed and debated at such length at Cannes, along with hearing how different businesses and industries are adopting tech in so many unique ways demonstrates how much potential there is for us as an industry to still unlock in this space. 

To close the week out, our Chief Innovation Officer, Mark Sandys, took to the Cannes stage sharing insights from our innovation culture, how our iconic brands approach innovations, learning from the inevitable setbacks along the way, and how success is always contingent on taking a long term view. We are proud to be custodians of established brands like Guinness, Johnnie Walker, and Baileys, and the teams are constantly thinking about how we can develop and reinvent them for the next phase of their journey. From technological advancements, to changing consumer trends such as the rise of non-alc – we need to be future thinking and anticipating what the customer will want decades from now. 

And of course, a highlight of the week was our J&B team winning a Bronze Lion for the beautiful work on their holiday ad, ‘She’, as well as one of our local star brands from Australia Bundaberg Rum’s ‘Bundy Mixer’ campaign winning a Silver and Bronze Lion. 

The topics and panels at Cannes will undoubtedly continue sparking conversation and inspiring real action, and I’m excited to see how the industry continues to push forward. 

Until next year! 

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