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A view from the Festival: Day Three

The team behind the Cannes Lions Live blog deliver their round-ups of the third day of the Festival

created on Monday 19 Jun 2017

There were two strong themes running through today: talent without prejudice and how data supports creativity.

The panelists for the ‘Women in Cinema’ session came at the topic from completely different angles, but all had experience of working with, or being, a talented woman in the film industry. Kathryn Jacobs of Pearl and Dean, who has experience of running successful campaigns for empowering females, said similar success in the film industry can be achieved when brands with a conscience work with the power of cinema. This was an opinion Kathryn pushed for the duration of the panel, and also brought along examples of campaigns where she’d already been raising women’s profiles. It was encouraging that action is already being taken on this issue, as this is what’s been discussed in previous years of the festival. Gillian Armstrong admitted to being impartial to the issue of women being unrepresented in her industry until recently, but it was impactful to see a new role model now take the baton of unrepresented women and run with it! There were several actions that came from this panel, some around awareness and others more directly.

The response to prejudice had a much more aggressive tone in Mindshare’s panel later in the day. The panel argued about meritocracy – Charlotte Beers said it doesn’t exist but women can bypass this and get to where they want to be.

Maggie Semple disagreed outright. Other things they disagreed on included ‘privilege’ – Charlotte not feeling she was privileged, Maggie believing they were. A highlight of the session for the audience was when Semple asked the audience "you, as agencies, are so amazing at persuading clients and convincing consumers - why don't you apply it to yourselves?"

"Agencies are so amazing at persuading clients and convincing consumers - why don't you apply it to yourselves?"
Maggie Semple

During the Alibaba talk, Chris Tung made it quite clear from the outset that they were a business who sees themselves as a place where buyers and sellers meet, as well as the seller’s data manager. Addressing the elephant in the room of all ‘big data’ discussions, he rightly challenged businesses who claim to have ‘big data’ but still have gaps in their knowledge about their customer. The relevancy to marketers in this is the question of how much they really know their customer.

He then revealed Uni Marketing – a product Alibaba created that feeds from the data infrastructure they have for their big data. It provides an online account for marketers to go in and track real-time campaign performance, but also the behaviours of their customers. Alibaba have a whole installation in Cannes Innovation about it that delegates can engage with. It really could live up to Tung’s claims about it revolutionising marketing, but Alibaba is still dominated by Asian consumers, so will be most relevant for these markets for now.


IBM’s Watson talk was packed with media. The amount of applications Watson has is remarkable – from diagnosing cancer through to helping people through tricky legal processes. At premium fashion event The Met Gala, Watson fed data from social media platforms to the dress of Karolina Kurkova whilst at the event. Online comments about the dress determined the colour of its lights. Alex Da Kid enriched the session with his views on the technology ‘not many music producers have access to such technology’ he said, perhaps hinting that many would use it if available to them. One way that IBM Watson’s talk perhaps trumped that of Alibaba was that they had an advocate of the product who had not just used it but achieved tangible success with it. Both however were beyond capacity which shows that creatives are embracing this new technology available to them, or at least thinking about it.

Prejudice and the use of data in marketing are both controversial topics. The latter of these seemed to receive larger audiences today, perhaps because the former has been talked about in previous years and we now need to take action. What was clear was that successes come from even the simplest of actions: Alex Da Kid playing around with IBM’s Watson resulted in a top-10 Billboard hit and Mindshare’s formation of Bollywood and pop-band Brooke Bond Red Label: 6 Pack Band brought some of the band members out of poverty. It’s therefore clear that by making even a tiny step in to the unfamiliar, much power could go with it, so just start!