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Reflecting on This Year's Cannes Lions Festival

As a summer full of exciting events and campaigns winds down, I’m reflecting on many amazing moments over the past couple of months, one of which was the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity in June.

“The world’s most inspiring creative festival” celebrated its 64th year, and the focus in 2018 was as clear as it has ever been: the festival is an intensive master class in learning, networking, and celebrating.

The Merkle team both attended and soaked up sessions with many of the world’s top brands, and also shared our perspective center stage at the Dentsu Aegis Network beach house with clients Aviva, HBO, and Target.

  • Along with Aviva, Google, Campaign, and Adobe Ad Cloud, we covered a session focused on a big and important question facing our industry today: personalization vs. scale – can marketers do both? How?  The discussion was lively and the overwhelming consensus was that Yes, it can – and should – be done.
  • Merkle and HBO discussed trends in the advertising industry, what HBO has done to stay ahead of the curve, and what’s coming next.  We also tried – unsuccessfully – to chat about any upcoming Westworld plot spoilers! 
  • With Target, we chatted about how the retailer is extracting deep insights from guest-level sales data to ultimately transform customer, marketing, and product decisions.  We were also excited to learn more about Drive Up – the fastest-ever Target run! 

Our speaking sessions extended out to the gorgeous yachts of Cannes, where we participated with industry veterans in panels that explored topics such as data privacy and female representation in adtech.

  • Merkle moderated a panel that brought together thought leaders from the ANA’s #Seeher initiative, including LinkedIn, MAD network, USAA, and Norton & LifeLock Brands, a Symantec Corporation,  for a conversation around women leaders in the adtech space.  We discussed how far the industry has come, what some leading brands are doing to address the issues, and what changes are on the horizon.  These are exciting times!
  • Along with Gabbcon, Merkle and M1 execs from the US and EMEA discussed the shifting world of data privacy. They chatted through what marketers need to be thinking about and doing in the constantly shifting realm of privacy and data security.

Along with this curated agenda of timely content came plenty of time for networking with global leaders from across various focus areas including creative, communications, media, advertising, technology, and more! There was never any shortage of innovative, smart, exciting people to meet and engage with throughout the week.

When it came time for the awards, the excitement didn’t stop, as HBO was honored with the bronze award for Excellence in Media Execution for its Season 7 Game of Thrones campaign. This was a particularly proud moment for Merkle, as we managed paid digital and social activations for the campaign, which helped HBO drive 61 million views of the season 7 trailer within the first 24 hours, making it the most viewed television trailer ever!

Year after year, the Cannes Lions Festival continues to be an inspirational event from which we can all learn. The content, attendees, activities, entertainment, and awards are all second to none – constantly raising the bar for what a successful event looks like. That’s why it’s the perfect place for Merkle to be and a perfect place to share best practices and learn from other innovators! (The sunshine and beaches just added to the magic….) I can’t wait for next year!  À la prochaine, Cannes Lions!

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