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July 2 2020

Cannes LIONS Live: What’s in store for creativity in 2020 and beyond?


Though the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity was postponed for 2020, the need only increased for discussions on what’s next for brands, creativity and the shifting priorities and behaviours in our industry. During the June week when the world’s best creatives should have been flocking to the South of France, the team at Cannes organised a virtual festival – LIONS Live: Creativity Matters – a week of panels, interviews, masterclasses and short films on what’s in store for creativity.

PHD Snapshots | LIONS Live 2020

“Creativity right now is in the driver’s seat,” assured Jean Lin, Global CEO, Creative and Global Executive Chairman, Isobar. “In a crisis such as COVID-19, you need an outpouring of creativity at pace to make things work and to reimagine how you can solve problems.”

As a panel of industry leaders from all corners of the world settled in over Zoom for a session with Philip Thomas, Cannes Lions Chairman, Thomas wasted no time getting straight to the core theme seen throughout the LIONS Live sessions – what, following this period of social and economic distress, will happen to creativity?

Since the virus hit, brands have been forced to pivot at breakneck speed in order to meet changing consumer demand. Communications, supply chains, and core product lines have been rethought.

The industry has weathered tough times before. Creativity bounces back. But is this recovery going to be different? What can history tell us?

Susie Walker, Head of Awards at Cannes Lions, advises first and foremost, to keep the lights on. A recent study found 55% of advertisers have cut marketing spend to protect short-term profitability, but history tells us that brands that continue to advertise during a recession will fare far better coming out of it.

Some of the most iconic campaigns of all time have followed recessions. In this case, iconic means ‘game-changing work’ which changed everything that came after it, using new techniques, new formats, new messaging, or all of these at once.

The trends happening in marketing and advertising before a downturn don’t fizzle out – far from it. These trends are set to accelerate through the downturn.

Our latest PHD Snapshots covers the key sessions from LIONS Live, including WARC’s creative effectiveness ladder, an interview with HSBC’s CMO Leanne Cutts, Cannes’ own guide to creative survival, seven learnings from Diageo on gender balance in advertising, and more. PHD’s LIONS Live coverage is available here.

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