June 27, 2024

It’s sweaty, it’s overwhelming, it’s contentious at times. And yet, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity delivers some bracing clarity if you keep your receptors open. Here is what our attendees took away.  


A few people said something that really stuck with me, and it was sort of freeing… It’s this idea that “not knowing is our superpower.” If we knew everything already, we wouldn’t be creative and business pioneers. I heard this notion first from the CCO of Adam&Eve, but it also came up in a CCO panel discussion and a brand presentation. In our data-driven, ROI, validation, test & learn, optimization, business-first industry, it is very easy for us/clients to pivot or dismiss certain ideas because we don’t know whether or not they will deliver real business results. Additionally, we put so much pressure on ourselves to reassure clients that we know what we are doing, in order to build trust. But sometimes, the deepest relationships and trust come through in the transparency of saying “I don’t know” and “let’s find out together.” Rather than mask the unknown – we should be embracing it. And yes, we will sometimes fail. If we aren’t failing, we aren’t taking enough risks. 

– Ashley Dent, SVP Account Management

Erin Wasson, Ashley Dent and Emma Quinn were into empowerment and iced coffee at the FQ lounge.


Tech is enabling us all in new and powerful ways, but it was the power of connection and emotion that rang loudly for me. There was an emphasis on humanity and humor at many of the stages. It was clear that brands must be focused on cultivating authenticity over time, grounding their strategies in truth while daring to take risks in execution. We must be careful to use technology not as a shield but as an enabler to get surprising places quicker, leaving more room to create emotional connections. What emotions? Well, it depends, but it was great to see laughter on center stage. Humor continues to be a powerful way to cut through and connect. When something is funny, it not only captures attention but also prompts people to share and seek it out. 

– Erin Wasson, EVP Managing Director


The biggest impact for me was the constant reminder that DE&I is still underrepresented within our industry. Several panels were organized around this topic, but it also came up a lot in AI panels. Involving people of color in AI is a must for the development of AI algorithms that are inclusive and not just scaling inequality. 

In addition, sponsors (both agencies and brands) represented BIG! Very engaging footprints with dynamic discussions and interactions. Outside of Inkwell Beach (where the daily 8:30AM meditations, elevated Southern food and the Juneteenth Celebration gave me life,) my favorite was Pinterest. They engaged with creative activities that reflected consumer passions on their platform: real tattoos at the Tattoo Parlour, Lego flowers, marbleized Crocs and Nikes, soccer jerseys repurposed into handbags… the list goes on and on. Such a thoughtful experience. 

– Angela Guidry, Director of Field Marketing, Ambassador to Cannes Can: Diversity Collective

Angela spoke on the panel, “Creativity Doesn’t Have an Age Limit.”


The activations were mostly excellent, although pretty much everywhere you went, you could feel belts have tightened. Drinks were weak, and food was sparse. Like, really, really sparse. 

Some of the presentations felt redundant. For instance, VML had Keenan Thompson on their panel to discuss the return of comedy. Keenan was charming and hilarious, but Andrew Robertson of BBDO gave the same speech last year, and his was much better.  It was funnier, too. Sorry, Keenan.

But the ones that hit home really hit home. Of particular note was “Convince Your C-Suite: The Real Impact of Creativity” featuring Morgan Flatley, Global Chief Marketing Officer, and Ian Borden, EVP and CFO, both of McDonald’s. You could barely tell the two apart, while in reality they would seem to be at polar opposite ends of the spectrum. Ian spoke of the need to be brave and disruptive in the work (again, he’s the money guy), and clearly communicated dollars spent on advertising (and thusly, on talent) are an investment in the future, versus an expense. 

I always say, “Someone has to make the sneakers.” (Or burgers, or donuts, or sprockets.) It’s great to hear that sentiment echoed by one of the world’s most powerful brands. Across disciplines and departments, our product is ideas. Those ideas transform business. Those ideas attract business. And those ideas are what will propel us ahead of the pack. Without them—and the commitment to making them ever better—we will first cease to be relevant, and then cease to exist. 

– Harris Wilkinson, Chief Creative Officer

Harris spoke on creative experiences at “Transforming the Physical Store” with Omnicom colleagues and execs from Philips and Adidas.


At Cannes 2024, creativity had many names. The most important one was collaboration. We heard it over and over from CCOs and CEOs and even CFOs: big ideas can’t happen without everyone holding hands and taking a leap together. Yes, that includes clients, too. But it doesn’t mean we have to wait around for clients with huge budgets or sights set on awards. It means we need to build trust with clients, so they know we’re in it together. This feeling was echoed all over the Palais, as executives and creatives and financiers painted a picture of it all being impossible without each other’s confidence and good faith.

– Emma Quinn, Creative Director

Catching up with Uber’s Anthony Hill, a former TMA-er
À la prochaine! Until next year! (Photo by Raysa Peres)