With Cannes Lions 2023 all wrapped up for the year, Invibes has arrived home with some key takeaways from a fantastic week of celebrating creativity and innovation. With award entries up by 6% and with attendance up by 18% YoY according to Simon Cook, CEO of Cannes Lions this year’s festival has been the most exciting yet. We’ve put together a run-down of the most important topics at the festival this year, read on to get the highlights!

AI took centre stage

Unsurprisingly, AI was one of the biggest topics at Cannes this year. From brands cleverly utilising AI in their creatives such as Nike and AKQA’s digital craft grand prix winning project featuring world-renowned tennis star Serena Williams, to talks on the evolving role of creativity and how it’s being reshaped by tech such as AI. Naturally, we were keen to learn how the industry has been taking to this new and exciting tech. At Invibes we’re embracing AI to bolster our tech-led solutions that drive truly effective advertising for brands and publishers. The latest additions to Invibes’ offering take the form of Invibes AI powered Sentiment and Topics which leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) based on a Large Language Model (LLM) to analyse content and understand the sentiment and themes of articles to further optimise placement relevance and improve brand suitability and likeability, as well as a new ChatGPT integration for improved A/B testing for messaging optimisation.

One of the main concerns about AI across industries has been around job losses, the outlook however at Cannes, was largely positive. At Group M’s AI & Data Innovation Showcase, Vincent Rebeix, Global Chief Product and Analytics Officer at essenceMediaCom told attendees that the goal should be to use AI as a co-pilot to make us work more efficiently but not to replace jobs. It was refreshing to see that our approach to harnessing AI as a knowledge and analysis tool for campaign optimization and better decision making, also appeared to be mirrored by many of the key players attending Cannes. Similarly, at the Wall Street Journal House, Brad Lightcap, COO of OpenAI when challenged on the possibility of AI taking jobs talked to the opportunity of AI actually creating jobs as well as bringing a beneficial level of automation to financial roles.

Another topic that went hand in hand with AI was creativity. A huge number of award entries this year incorporated the new tech into their campaigns. Interestingly in the Digital Craft grand prix where Nike and AKQA took the gold, over 50% of the 600 entries used AI, ChatGPT and machine learning. The jury president Resh Sidhu, Global Director of Arcadia AR Creative Studio at Snap Inc, while speaking positively on AI, machine learning and other tech showing what the future of advertising could look like, also shared a word of caution that the industry should be careful to use these new tools wisely. The industry can sometimes be quick to jump on new bandwagons when something exciting comes along but this can and has in the past led to some technologies being used incorrectly rather than to truly elevate the craft of the campaign. Resh noted that just using tech won’t win a Cannes Lion and that whilst AI is here and it’s exciting, it’s a tool that still needs to be used alongside creativity, experience and purpose.

Spotlight on attention and creative impact

Another big topic at the festival this year was of course attention. As a relatively new and still evolving area of the industry it’s no surprise that it was a key talking point, so what were the highlights?

At the Doubleverify Panel, How Leading Brands are Making Attention Pay that played host to industry players including Bestbuy, Diageo, WPP and Dentsu, there were many interesting points raised, but the main takeaway was that ultimately, we’re not in control of attention, consumers are; and if they don’t pay attention they won’t convert. Josh Nafman, Vice President Data & Operations at Diageo shared that a key goal for Diageo this year is to prioritise ensuring they are in the best position to capture attention. The panel also discussed the exciting opportunities measuring attention provides for campaign optimisation and avoiding wastage on non-attention reach. Finally, on the evolution of attention, the future looks to be bright with panellists predicting attention becoming a game changer as a true media buying tool once media partners can start transacting on attention. Though some thought needs to be put into how attention will play into each stage of the purchase funnel and how brands can effectively use attention to meet different campaign goals for example, performance vs branding.

The future of attention is certainly exciting, at Invibes we’re big on attention so it was fantastic to hear from other players in the industry about where they see it going. As for us, we also believe that attention could be a huge factor in shaping the industry, but that the real game changer will come with positive attention. So we’re going a step further with taking the lead on driving advertising that creates positive attention, built around intelligence and natural engagement.

In terms of generating attention and boosting creative impact, we recently shared some findings from Kantar on ads making people smile again, a sentiment that seemed to be shared at Cannes Lions this year. There’s been a definite resurgence in humour and ‘feel-good’ creatives emerging across the space and a feeling that after a tumultuous past few years with the COVID-19 pandemic, cost-of-living crisis and conflict across nations in various parts of the world, the industry wants to start having a bit of fun again. This was apparent with Skinny, a New Zealand mobile provider and Colenso BBDO grand prix win with their radio campaign that we’re sure you’ve all heard about by now. The resulting radio ads made for a light-hearted, fun-filled but highly impactful campaign, and a great example of the powerful engagement that humour – when done right – can generate.

Sustainability across the event and industry

Across all industries there’s been a reckoning and push for sustainability, particularly more recently with the advertising industry. And with Cannes’ reputation not traditionally being the greenest due to a high carbon footprint and the ostentatiousness of the iconic Cannes yachts for example, sustainability was a consistent and contentious topic throughout the festival.

Invibes has taken a number of steps to support sustainability from setting goals to reduce our campaign carbon emissions which already produce on average 96% less CO2 emissions than the industry benchmark 1, a calculation that’s been certified by ESG Score, to providing a first-in-industry carbon neutral advertising offering to brands, we’re committed to delivering advertising with a positive impact on the planet. A proactive step in understanding that brands are being held to higher standards particularly as consumers become more aware of greenwashing and regulators set to clamp down on sustainable efforts that are more performative than positively impactful. Interestingly, this didn’t prevent airline British Airways and Uncommon from winning the outdoor grand prix with their “A British Original” outdoor campaign that highlighted reasons for consumers to keep travelling. Jurors were said to have focussed on the work of the campaign over the carbon impact of the brand, once again reflecting the polarising topic of sustainability at Cannes.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

In a similar vein, the industry consensus is growing that while it’s a positive step that brands are trying to be supportive of underrepresented communities, they need to ensure that efforts to increase DE&I both in campaigns and talent need to be genuine and impactful and not simply for optics. Additionally, brands are now navigating backlash from anti-woke movements – think Budweiser’s Bud Light ad in collaboration with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney that caused uproar and boycotting in the US ­– which will be interesting to see how the industry moves forward in regards to balancing holding their support for marginalised communities with facing backlash from consumers with opposing views. At Invibes we’re always proud to work with brands that support and celebrate underrepresented communities in a genuine way as, we ourselves are committed to providing an open and inclusive workplace where everyone can feel safe to be themselves and be a part of the #GoodVibes!

As always, Cannes Lions 2023 turned out to be a thought-provoking showcase of creativity and innovation from some of the industries best and brightest. It was great to see both new and familiar faces, and we look forward to seeing you again next year!

Interested in learning more about Invibes’ innovative advertising offering? Get in touch!


  1. The Hidden Cost of Digital Advertising study, Ebiquity and Scope3, November 2022 and Invibes data certified calculation by ESG Score