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Trend Forecasting for Cannes 2017

Trend Forecasting for Cannes 2017

Simon Cook, Cannes' director of awards, looks at what trends are apparent now the Lions festival is upon us.

The creative industries talk a lot about the need to ‘surprise and delight’ their increasingly marketing savvy customers – but it is rare in a climate where we are bombarded with forecasts, predictions and other future gazing that we ‘insiders’ get to experience a genuine frisson of discovery and excitement before the festival.

Cannes Lions' director of awards, Simon Cook.

It’s because I am fortunate enough to be immersed in a cauldron of creativity as director of awards at Cannes Lions that the time from late-May to now has come to be defined by one big annual question; ‘What’s going to win?’ I, naturally, avoid comment. I tend to throw it back to my interrogator and wait for them to zip through their carefully prepared list of famous campaigns from the year.    

I enjoy an early glimpse of the work entered, alongside our dedicated and soon-to-be sun-dazzled jurors, who will shortly emerge blinking from darkened auditoriums into the light looking both exhausted and exhilarated. Alongside the fame, the glory and the complementary canapes that come with being a juror, I’m told that the real reward comes from diving headlong into rich, varied work from over 100 countries around the globe. Like kids in candy stores.


Image result for blinded by the light


I don’t know who will win – I’ll leave that to the experts - but I can be absolutely certain of two things.

1. The best work, regardless of fame and notoriety, will rise to the top
2. There will be surprises…

Like every year, I fully expect to hear animated jurors exclaim that the most relevant and interesting industry trends emerge when those surprise pieces bubble to the surface. I’m told that ‘they add texture and nuance to a body of work and ultimately underpin the macro trends at play'.

It’s only from my mingling with a colourful cast of industry folks and other stakeholders that I get to hear of trends that may come to define Cannes Lions 2017. The range is vast and wide-ranging - I’ve been batted from bots to brand experience and back again - but here's what seems to be the most likely... 



The campaign for creativity appears to be alive and well – especially among the suits. We have received a record number of submissions in the Creative Effectiveness Lions. We all know that clients are under more pressure than ever to show the C-suite that marketing spend is contributing to the bottom line and agencies are delivering – using their creative smarts to come up with ideas that have a real impact on ROI.



We expect to see the more cutting-edge experimentation fusing tech and creativity in the Innovation Lions and this strand remains an important centre of excellence for creative enterprises to demonstrate those astonishing quantum leaps of imagination. However, we are now seeing creative companies moving outside their comfort zones to embrace an expanded creative palate across the piece. As the lights go down at the award shows this year we expect to see creative campaigns and communications sitting comfortably alongside creative problem-solving, product development, consultancy and wider business solutions.



The aspiration to produce good work that not only does good but shifts culture will remain a driving force. It’s been a record year for the Glass Lions: The Lion for Change. This is especially pleasing bearing in mind all entry fees go to charities that tackle gender equality. As ever, actions speak louder than words and considered, meaningful actions are what are required. While it’s heartening to see agencies and brands keen to come up with ideas that contribute to a social purpose, this is now the baseline hygiene factor before even starting to begin conversation with consumers – especially the increasingly important Gen K. In short, brand purpose is here to stay.


So, when the winners are revealed and the reviews and dissections start taking place, I hope that you will be astonished, delighted and surprised by the diversity of ideas and concepts that have emerged from all corners of the globe - brave work that demonstrates spark, ingenuity and genuinely catches us by surprise as it shimmies through the ranks. The winning body of work will capture a moment in time and it’ll be this year’s winners, themes and trends that put us on a new course and announce the start of a new creative year.


Image result for ‘phygital’


We all know that we’ll be hearing a clutch of new buzzwords spilling out of the festival (please – can we kill of ‘phygital’ at this point?) and pundits will be trying to draw out some tenuously-linked themes from the winners. But in a world where media is fragmenting, brands are struggling to keep up with consumer behaviours and agencies are under huge pressure to deliver more with less, I’m pleased that the work at Cannes will continue to surprise, delight and illuminate future pathways opening up for creativity.




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