Reflecting on Cannes Lions Innovation

The Cannes Lions Festival of creativity is in its 63rd year and has seen many cycles of change. Digital technologies and platforms are now amongst the most visible and influential participants A smaller more intimate Lions Innovation Festival, now at the heart of the week of creativity rather than tacked on to the end.


The primary theme was the impact of AI in its various guises; machine learning, algorithms, bots, automation, Intelligent agents and Virtual Personal Assistants.

PHD asked ‘will a robot ever win a Lion?’ The overwhelming consensus of the audience and panel was yes and quite soon. Personally I don’t believe so, because an AI so advanced that it is capable of winning a Cannes Lion will have such vast capabilities that it will not need to prove itself in such a human way. Saying that AI technology will be a crucial tool in many of the most creative ideas in years to come.

AI and cognitive technologies will require a new set of skills to be quickly developed and adopted through the entire industry from the creation of the algorithms to AI strategy to grappling with new abstract moral and legal dilemmas. System Design for an AI world is an important consideration in many talks, for instance Calm Design is the concept of designing, not to minimise time or steps, but to minimise attention. Our communications need to consider the subtleties of these principles so that information gets to the right consumer in the right context. The deluge of data being collected by an expanding range of sensors is powering that change.


At the OMD Oasis Thomas Friedman reminded us that we must consider these technological developments through the lens of the other global mega trends of globalisation and climate change. The three M’s of the market, Mother Nature and Moore’s law need to be considered as one system.

Where does all of this net out? Ultimately the machines will not replace us but, some think, they will merge with us. To a degree we are already tech cyborgs regarding our smartphone as a crucial piece ourselves. Implantable sensors and even artificial robot eyes are being developed, as well as Robots like ‘Jibo’ that is designed to be a social robot and thus a trusted member of the family.

It takes time for culture to metabolise new technology, we were reminded how only 10 years ago the camera phone felt like a pointless gimmick, whereas now they are an essential part of modern culture. Similarly AIs in their various forms will power a host of new products and services that may not make sense from today’s perspective. Our collective challenge is to metabolise that potential in to long term business growth. Success in that world will be signified by the Lions awarded over the next few years.



About Author

Jean-Paul Edwards

Jean-Paul has been with OMD for 20 years. He founded Manning Gottlieb OMD’s Digital team in 1997 and then led the agency Media Futures offering. He now works at OMD EMEA to drive development of the network’s offering in a digitally led, data-centric media environment. Outside of work Jean-Paul is kept busy by three children, he is a keen skier and reader across a wide range of embarrassingly geeky topics.

Leave A Reply