Cannes Lions 2023 - Key takeaways


We recently attended Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, targeted at the advertising, creative and digital marketing industries. An event filled with a buzz of activity and high energy, here are our key takeaways:


This was the second Cannes Lions event to be held post Covid, and the mood on The Croisette was one of high energy, optimism, and hope. Estimated that over 10,000 delegates from across the world attended including Europe, the US, Oceania, and Asia, there was a multitude of talks, gatherings, and social events to choose from.

Attendees ranged from industry players including agencies and tech providers both big and small as well as broader global consultancy and technology groups – and it was also good to see senior stakeholders from global brands including Chanel, P&G, Unilever, and Spotify.

Cautious optimism

Although the atmosphere was one of renewed energy, there was cautious optimism with many attendees commenting on a challenging market with budgets being scrutinized, far more projects being directed through procurement processes and many clients playing a waiting game before committing to marketing spend.

AI was the focus of conversation

There was no surprise that one of the main topics of conversation was Artificial Intelligence (AI) with many seminars and formal presentations highlighting possible impacts for the industry.  There were the obvious discussions around the extent to which efficiencies through AI would reduce headcount, with many landing on the perspective that the real risk would be for those who were unwilling to adopt and embrace the new ways of working.

Clearly on everyone’s mind, there was an enthusiasm rather than a fear of AI’s impact, a recognition that it needed to be incorporated into daily practices and used as a creative tool. Of course, for some, like those in performance digital marketing, there was the acknowledgement that they had been using AI for a long time now, but Generative AI, through its ability to generate content of all varieties, has changed the nature of the conversation.

The M&A viewpoint

For those with an M&A lens, although less volume than in recent years, we spoke with many senior decision makers and M&A professionals right across the marketing landscape and the feedback echoed what we have been seeing in our business. There is capital available to fund transactions and a willingness to look at investment / acquisition opportunities, but the bar is higher, and a much smaller number are going to make it across the finish line.

The focus has gone way beyond simply seeking out growing businesses with a good margin and instead it is all about specific capabilities in specific geographies, where the strategic rationale and value proposition is strong.


There was no doubt that Cannes Lions was a success in bringing all parts of the marketing and advertising ecosystem together. We look forward to seeing the optimism and energy from the Croisette making it back to people’s desks and finding its way into the decision-making process.

If you have any queries or would like to have an in depth discussion on this topic or the broader market contact us

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