Having just returned from Cannes Lions festival, Atomic 212’s national head of strategy, Asier Carazo, reflects on this year’s event and his biggest takeaway – friendship.

Another Cannes Lions festival has just concluded and as I sit at the airport awaiting my flight back to Melbourne, it’s a perfect time to reflect on what this action-packed, rosé-filled week means to me – and hopefully to the industry as a whole.

Cannes Lions is always a whirlwind. No matter how many times you’ve attended or how organised you are, it always feels overwhelming on that first day walking down La Croisette. The constant socialising, attending talks, events and dancing can be physically and mentally exhausting when done continuously for five days. I’m not going to lie: I’ll probably sleep for the next 24 hours. Living on the other side of the world has its perks in this regard.

Now, let’s delve into the reflection. The headline might seem obvious, but Cannes Lions is fundamentally about making friends and reconnecting with old ones. Interestingly, I often bump into my Australian colleagues more frequently in Cannes than I do in Sydney or Melbourne (mental note: I should leave the office more often). This year, the theme of friendship took on new dimensions at Cannes Lions, and I’d like to share why.

Making friends with the CFO

Brands that have consistently won awards and recognition, such as McDonald’s and Unilever, emphasised a key insight on stage this year: creativity flourishes when the CMO and CFO are allies. In today’s climate, where every dollar is closely examined and consumer spending is tightening, forging a strong bond between marketing and finance is crucial.

Top marketers around the globe acknowledge that creativity inherently involves risk, often entailing significant costs. Having the CFO as a supportive partner is essential. While creativity remains the key to success, the most brilliant ideas are often neither the safest nor the cheapest.

Could agencies step in and become their client’s CFO’s best friends?

Making friends with AI

As anticipated, AI dominated a lot of the discussions throughout the week. While different visions and ambitions were presented, one thing was clear: AI is here to stay and is already revolutionising how we work. It’s crucial to be friends with AI to avoid being left behind.

Elon Musk’s cautionary remarks about a 20% chance of AI leading to humanity’s annihilation, or the chance of all of us losing our jobs, were certainly bleak. However, the overall consensus was more optimistic, highlighting AI’s potential to simplify our lives on an unprecedented scale.

As with previous societal advancements like photography or the internet, there is a natural panic phase, questioning the future of humanity. Yet, history shows that once the initial fear subsides, we recognise the benefits. If used wisely, AI can enhance human creativity and innovation. Now is the time to make friends with AI.

Making friends with consumers

Every brand aspires to build a genuine friendship with its customer base, believing that this connection will drive future sales. The typical marketer might argue that achieving this requires more advertising. However, the insights from this year’s Media Lions winners suggest that less advertising might actually be the key to forming a true friendship with customers and prospects.

This year’s Media Grand Prix winner, Mercado Libre, a Latin American online retailer, exemplified this approach by taking media integration to a new level. With their campaign, Handshake Hunt, they transformed a simple handshake in any TV, social media, or video content into a subtle opportunity for consumers to purchase goods at a lower price. This understated form of advertising led to remarkable success during the most recent Black Friday, showcasing why this innovative “no advertising” strategy deserved the Grand Prix.

Another excellent example came from Brazil’s Consul, a washing machine brand which took home a Gold Lion. Their campaign focused on eliminating all advertising from a football jersey, including their own logo. This move delighted the team’s fans, who loved seeing their team’s jersey free of brand logos, and it sparked nationwide conversation. Consul’s approach not only pleased their customers but also generated significant buzz around their brand.

All in all, Cannes Lions has been an absolute blast. I’ve made new friends, seen old ones and I’m feeling as excited as ever to continue inspiring my industry peers until an AI model takes over my role.

A bientôt!

Asier Carazo is the national head of strategy for Atomic 212°.

Article originally published on mumbrella.