Ads for good, green targets, political responsibility, diversity and all things meta: Part 1

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is back in the South of France for the first time in three years. Picking up where it left off, the landmark event is hosting a spectacular conference programme crammed with insightful sessions and visionary speakers.


Photo of the new B2B Gold Lion held up to blue sky
The new Creative B2B Lion, part of the Engagement Track

With headline speakers including Malala Yousafzai, Megan Thee Stallion, Garry Kasparov and Issa Rae, the five-day Cannes Lion International Festival of creativity will take delegates on a rollercoaster ride through the metaverse, NFTs, brand activism, DEI and next-gen creativity.

Regular strands throughout the week include CMOs in the spotlight, The Changemakers and Meet Ups. These up-close-and-personal sessions will give Cannes Lions visitors an opportunity to learn from and engage with some of the most brilliant minds in the business.


Saving the planet in partnership with…

Kicking off the week, chess guru Garry Kasparov and Edelman CEO Richard Edelman will lead a session discussing The Imperative for Brands To Act Now (10.00, Monday, June 20). With the political class around the world struggling to gain the trust of voters, Edelman and Kasparov will argue that brands have a greater than ever responsibility to act as a force for good. They will explain how brands can take real and meaningful action beyond tokenistic gestures and set out why it’s ultimately in their interest to step up.

Social purpose will be a recurrent theme at Lions, with Diageo heading a session entitled Brand Activism - Your Power as Marketers to Make Big Change (11.00, Tuesday, June 21). On the same day, a high-powered line up of agency and marketing execs will lay out their vision for sustainability in By 2030 Every Ad Will Be a Green Ad (14.30, Tuesday, June 21).

The environmental crisis is the focal point of We Had an Asteroid, What’s Your Excuse? (15.30, Wednesday, June 22). This session, hosted by the United Nations Development Programme and SAWA, the global cinema advertising association, boasts a panel that includes French actor and activist Aissa Maiga and Game of Thrones star, Danish actor Nikolaj Coster Waldau. Also making an appearance will be Frankie The Dinosaur, the star of a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) marketing campaign. The purpose of the session is to explain why creativity can save the planet and how the medium of cinema has helped highlight a series of critical issues.

Saving the planet is also the central theme of the session It's Not Climate Change, It's the ‘Everything Change’ (14.30, Monday, June 20). In this inspiring and thought-provoking session, a young climate activist, a Blockchain Media executive and a spoken-word poet will make a case for new climate narratives, the re-imagination of our future and the role of the emergence of web3 and its potential impact in society and the planet.



From MeToo to fluidity via the black experience

No less compelling will be Cannes Lions sessions that zoom in on current concerns such as gender, diversity and inclusion – with thought leaders from a range of sectors and backgrounds providing a blueprint for change. One highlight will be a seminar with Malala Yousafzai, Nobel Laureate, girls’ educational activist and recipient of this year’s Cannes Lionheart. At the core of her work, Yousafzai believes in amplifying marginalised voices to create a world where young people have the agency to address the barriers standing in the way of their dreams. In this inspirational session, she will share how to create change with the next generation.

Another of the week’s most intriguing sessions will be FCB’s Five Years Later: A Look at #metoo in 2022 (10.30, Monday, June 20). Guest speaker Tarana Burke, founder and chief vision officer of the MeToo Movement, will join Susan Credle, global chair and global chief creative officer of FCB, for a compelling conversation around the movement’s triumphs to date and the challenges ahead.

Other eye-catching sessions will explore hot topics including cultural appropriation (14.00, Monday, June 20) and bias. In The Mirror Only Has One Face (10.30, Wednesday, June 22), a powerful speaker line up including writer, producer and actor Issa Rae, will explore how much bias people carry as individuals, while unveiling the societal impact this has.

Crystallising some of the above themes, a session on Thursday will see some of the world’s most powerful black marketers share stories about using their influence to grow their organisations, demonstrating their commitment to action and creating a pipeline for the next generation of black marketing leaders. Speakers in Top Black Marketers Talk Disruption, Paving the Way for Nextgen (11.00, Thursday, June 23) hail from firms including Mars Wrigley, Unilever, GroupM and the Black Executive CMO Alliance (BECA).

The wide-ranging issue of cultural identity comes up in other ways too. Photographer, filmmaker and publisher Rankin will lead a Masterclass entitled Tackling Taboos Through Visual Storytelling (13.45, Thursday, June 23). With a photoshoot on stage in front of a live audience, Rankin will walk through how he elicits emotion from his subjects and creates conversations that challenge cultural taboos. Meanwhile British fashion designer Harris Reed, a favourite of pop star Harry Styles, will outline his approach and philosophy in Fluidity is the Future of Creativity (11.30, Tuesday, June 21). Reed’s collections have appeared on the covers of global fashion titles and in this session he’ll talk about why fluidity is the basis of his inspiration, how it’s driving his success and why brands are finally embracing the fluid adventure.

Storytelling is also the focus of a session featuring Ryan Reynolds, chief creative officer of MNTN and co-founder of Maximum Effort, and Wendy Clark, global CEO of Dentsu, on Wednesday June 22 at 10.00. The duo will discuss the impact advertisers can make by “embracing and reacting to culture and using their brands to tell a story consumers want to hear”.