Cannes Lions 2016 - The Marketing Trends That Will Define 2017

29th Jul

“Smoke and mirrors in marketing is over” - Will Smith, Cannes Lions 2016.


The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity brings the best talent from around the world to celebrate the most creative and innovative work in the business. The 63rd Cannes Lions spun 8 days in June and saw the festival not only reflect on the year’s best campaigns, but predict the trends of tomorrow.

Here are the key marketing trends from Cannes Lions that are predicted to define 2017:

The Blurring of boundaries

This year’s festival saw a range of brands and agencies merging reality with marketing. Netflix did it best with their House of Cards FU2016 campaign created by BBH New York. This campaign went on to win the highest accolade, The Grand Prix for The Integrated Lions award and it is easy to see why.

The biggest challenge Netflix and BBH had was to promote a political Netflix series in a time where the real political landscape was as dramatic as any TV show. Who needed Frank Underwood when the world already had a real life baddie in the form of Donald Trump?

BBH approached the challenge by creating a satirical political campaign that seamlessly integrated several forms of marketing across multiple channels. CNN premiered a Frank Underwood 2016 political broadcast during a break in the live Republican debate. The impact was huge: #FU2016 was instantly the top trending topic on Twitter. In addition to this, the public were invited to visit the Frank Underwood website, create their own FU2016 content, purchase merchandise and even visit Underwood’s campaign headquarters in North Carolina.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is set to shake up the industry in the next few years as more brands adopt the technology to create immersive stories. The New York Times won the Grand Prix in the Entertainment and Mobile Categories for The Displaced,  a VR film telling the stories of child refugees. What was made clear at this year's Cannes Lions was that with VR, the right message is essential. Virtual Reality needs to be used in a way that enhances the story being told and this is why The Displaced was so successful.

Read more about VR and immersive journalism here

 Agencies that create products

Agencies as makers of products is a trend predicted to become popular 2017. One example of this is Leo Burnett Sydney’s ‘BrainBAND’ for Samsung.

Starting as a supplier, The Flash Pack have been creating products for clients over the past few years, focusing on this as a key part of our strategy now and for the future. The Flash Pack are dedicated to listening to the needs of our clients and creating full experiences through the development of technology. Read how we integrated our own products into an experience for H&M and Field Day here.

Work that is for a cause

In a time when cultural, social and political injustice is at the forefront of discussion, Cannes Lions saw brands joining (or in some cases, sparking) the conversation, showing their values are core to their brand.

It was clear from the festival that 2017 will see marketing become less about the product and more about people, to a greater extent than ever before. Marketers are addressing issues that affect society and their consumer. One campaign that did this well, winning 4 Lions, including a gold for Excellence in Interactive Music Video was AKQA’s and Tidal’s Don’t Look Away. This was a music video created for Usher’s song ‘Chains’. AKQA created a video that forces the viewer to confront racial injustice. Using facial recognition, the viewer must look into the eyes of an unarmed victim who was killed by police. If the viewer turns away, the music stops.

The video attracted a huge amount of media attention around the world, earning 500 million impressions and attracting high profile attention from Jay-Z, Cara Delevingne and Leonardo DiCaprio who all took to social media to praise the campaign for highlighting the issue.

User generated content

User generated content is predicted to continue as a strong trend into 2017. R/GA Hustle and Beats by Dre were awarded the Silver Lion for Use of User Generated Content for their Straight Outta Campaign. This campaign was a partnership with Universal Pictures to promote the film, 'Straight Outta Compton'. This integrated campaign allowed users to celebrate where they are from, with the tagline ‘Rep your city. Make yours’ and the hashtag #StraightOutta.

Inviting people from around the world to create their own personalised ‘Straight Outta’ filter to post on social media, the results saw #StraightOutta going viral. Within 24 hours it was the number 1 trending topic on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook - the first time in history a brand had achieved this. The campaign also attracted the world’s biggest icons who created their own personalised filters without any endorsement money.

Read more from The Flash Pack Latest section here. 

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