How influencer marketing has stolen the Lion’s share of the spotlight at Cannes

Ben Jeffries
Ben Jeffries
June 14, 2023
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity - better known as Cannes Lions - has been a staple of the advertising calendar for...

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity - better known as Cannes Lions - has been a staple of the advertising calendar for 70 years. It captures the zeitgeist of the marketing landscape, providing insight into the latest trends. And for the 2023 edition, all eyes will be on influencer marketing.

It wasn’t always like this. The WPPs and GroupMs of the world have historically dominated Cannes’ most prestigious locations along the highly-coveted Boulevard de la Croisette. But the winds of change are blowing. And the fact we’re seeing influencer marketing agencies occupying prime beach club locations this year reflects the soaring prominence of how medialand is changing.

The influencer marketing industry’s value is forecast to hit $69bn by 2029 - compared to just $7bn in 2021. WPP has taken note of this shift, purchasing two influencer agencies earlier this year.

Cannes Lions is a celebration of creative excellence. And with social platforms taking control of the hot spots - including Influencer’s takeover of villa content - it’s clear that creator-based marketing is doing its utmost to both stand tallest amongst competitors and cement itself as a key player alongside tech partners and agencies.

The new advertising dawn

A significant proportion of brands’ large paid media budgets - encompassing TikTok and Facebook ads - has traditionally been allocated to media agencies. But whilst going through brand channels used to be considered the easiest road to go down, evidence supporting social-oriented advertising’s value is becoming impossible to ignore.

Kantar’s ‘The Power of TikTok’ report identified TikTok ads as powerful drivers for both increased awareness and improved conversion rates. Deploying creators as brand ambassadors can generate trust and affinity amongst target audiences.

Brands aren’t blind to this trend. Inquiries regarding which creators will be attending Cannes Lions are growing as marketers seek to learn more about creators themselves and best ways of working collaboratively. This motivation has also led to brands incorporating creators into their panels. Amazon’s ‘Twitch: Inside the Hype’ session will deliver insights around streamers’ dedicated communities and how brands can help bring these to life. This positions the tech titan as acknowledging that creators are one of the strongest ways to reach Gen Z.

As Cannes attendees see influencer marketing companies sitting directly alongside the major traditional agencies, this year really exemplifies how the creator business’ influence in the overarching marketing mix is growing - with their utility extending beyond social media. Television, out-of-home (OOH) and programmatic online ads are all putting creators at the heart of their campaigns. And this is where finding a partner - such as Influencer - that can manage these relationships can pay dividends.

A glimpse at what’s to come

Cannes Lions represents an opportunity for creators to cement their place in the advertising consciousness. CMOs roam freely between panels, making them more accessible than ever before. What's more, these professionals are willing to dedicate time from their busy schedules to learn about the world of creators.

Influencer’s presence at Cannes Lions will feature four events, each tailored to a different audience. ‘The Create Escape: Drink Outside The Box’ - run in collaboration with TikTok - offers a deep-dive into how influencer marketing is transforming the creative industry. Conversely, ‘The Female Playing Field’ focuses on creators’ role in driving relevance and reach for topical cultural events.

This isn’t the first time that TikTok has graced the shores of Cannes. But whilst it stuck to the event’s fringes last year, this summer will see the platform make the Carlton Hotel its home - evidence its stepping up its efforts to establish itself as a mainstream marketing option.

Influencer marketing isn’t a short-term fad that will lose traction as quickly as the metaverse (despite Apple’s best efforts to revive wearable technology). A glance at the attendee list for our panels reveals executives from Spotify, Microsoft and Unilever; blue-chip companies known for keeping their finger on the advertising pulse.

The festival is just over a week away. This is a time for marketers to step away from their screens and listen to the foremost creative minds from across the advertising landscape. And this starts with the creators that define the new status quo.

Want to find out more about Influencer’s presence at Cannes Lions 2023? Check out the full rundown of our panels here.

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