Mobile Marketing: What kind of a comeback do you think Cannes will make after the pandemic?
Peter Wallace: Live events were scaled back during Covid and that had a real impact on the media and advertising scene. As an industry that’s so used to collaborating face to face, there’s been a real hunger for getting back out there and making those all-important human connections. And this is especially true of Cannes, which is known as a festival of networking, learning and celebration. If you look at other events, like ATS, Programmatic Pioneers and your own Masterclassing events, it’s the same – the industry is craving real-life interactions.
Based on conversations we’re having with other companies attending, I think another pull for delegates will be a noticeable shift from ‘splash the cash’ displays of wealth to more thoughtful and impactful interactions and conversations. Don’t get me wrong – Cannes will still be a place to celebrate, get together, and to some extent, ‘play’, but it’s not likely to be as garish as it has been in recent years. There is a definite feeling that people are starting to move away from the ‘yacht wars’ and becoming more mature about what they’re doing at these events. So it will be more about ‘partying with a purpose’.
And I don’t think it’s just attendees that are going to be driving this shift either – the organisers seem to be doing their bit to facilitate change, too. This year’s panels, for example, are spotlighting key cross-sector issues that we all need to focus on – corporate social responsibility, inclusiveness, diversity, sustainability, etc.
MM: With this shift towards moderation, do you expect more ‘business’ to come out of Cannes this year?
PW: I definitely think there’s been an increase in the level of accountability. People are becoming more aware of their actions and how they’re affecting the broader macro-economic environment. The industry is starting to realise that flashy gestures aren’t a suitable way to approach business at events like Cannes anymore. Some have IPO’d, so they’re accountable to their shareholders. If they throw cash at yachts or parties, for example, those shareholders are going to have a lot of questions. Other organisations might be looking at M&A or IPO opportunities themselves, so they need to maintain the right image in order to attract potential investors.
MM: What kinds of companies do you think we can expect to see at Cannes in a year like this?
PW: Cannes is a place for all kinds, so startups, IPOs and the big corporate players are sure to be attending. Again, I think the major difference this year will lie in their objectives at the event. There will still be an element of prestige to ‘being seen’ at Cannes, but I think a lot of the focus will be on more meaningful networking geared to senior stakeholders. People are starting to realise that there’s a lot more you can gain out of Cannes from meeting the right people and being part of the conversation than simply splashing the cash.
MM: As a long-time Cannes visitor, how would you advise companies to approach Cannes this year? What kind of mindset should they have going into it?
PW: Knowing who your clients are and who you’re trying to reach at Cannes is key. So they should steer away from just talking to industry peers – they should also consciously network with those who are likely to drive their business objectives.
Attending any event – from Cannes to DMEXCO – will eat into the marketing budget. It’s an investment, so spending the entire festival in the ‘comfort zone’ of friends and peers isn’t going to drive the best ROI.
MM: What has GumGum got planned?
PW: Our main objectives are to network, work in a few business meetings and position GumGum as a thought-leadership organisation. We’ll be taking some of our agency clients with us and will be meeting a few others there – all from a variety of markets, with the majority stemming from the Netherlands.
MM: Does it feel like there will be a more European feel to Cannes this time?
PW: Traditionally Cannes has been very heavily driven by British and American visitors but that is set to change. With much more global tech and advertising strategy being driven across a broad range of European countries I expect there to be much more diverse geographical representation.
The Netherlands over recent years has become an ever increasingly important hub for advertisers. The number of media agencies and brands centralising European and Global offices here makes it a powerhouse. With greater importance I fully expect to see increasing representation from The Netherlands in Cannes as well as other European events as they take centre stage in conversations.