Here's Everything We Know So Far About The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2024

Kelcie Gene Papp
May 30, 2024


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Updated on Thursday, May 30th - 2024 (scroll down for the latest insights)

Bonjour mes amis en marketing de marque. As the currently-not-so-sun-kissed shores of the Côte d’Azur prepare for Cannes Lions 2024, we’re very interested in the 71st edition of adland’s most glamorous event.

Why? With Simon Cook now CEO of  LIONS: The Home of Creativity, which the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity sits under, and with Ascential plc's ownership, the festival will be looking to navigate the fine balance between celebrating creative triumphs and addressing the industry's most pressing issues.

LIONS: The Home of Creativity represents a dynamic repositioning of the Cannes Lions brand. It extends beyond the annual Festival of Creativity to offer a comprehensive suite of advisory, learning, and intelligence services. This initiative supports creative professionals in their career journey, emphasising the ongoing need for creativity and innovation in the industry. LIONS Membership, priced at €299 + Sales Tax (€209 + Sales Tax for those under 30), grants access to resources, although it's separate from The Work subscription.

And, we’re intrigued. Very intrigued. From seeing how the festival will embrace wellness to what the the week will look like with the new umbrella of LIONS: The Home of Creativity. It feels 2024 is going to be pretty historic for the festival.

When do Cannes Lions 2024 Award Submissions Open? 

On January 17th, 2024, award submissions open. And, although the speakers have not yet been announced, (last year this was unveiled in March) the game is afoot. Festival partners and advertisers so far? Check them out here. Entry Kit? 120-pages which you can download here.

In 2023, on seeing a surge in AI-integrated entries, Cook, noted "The shifts in the work that’s been entered provide us with a powerful insight into the industry landscape." Looking ahead to Cannes Lions 2024, we can’t help but think: How will the festival evolve in embracing new creative technologies? And what will be the impact on submission diversity, particularly from non-traditional sectors and independent creators?

So, here’s everything we know:

When is Cannes Lions 2024?

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, often hailed as the Oscars of the advertising world, is set to unfold its 71st edition from June 17 to 21, 2024. Traditionally held in Cannes, France, this prestigious event marks a gathering of the most innovative and creative minds in the marketing, advertising, and communication industries.

Who Owns Cannes Lions?

Cannes Lions is owned by Ascential plc, a leading international business-to-business media company. Ascential specialises in organising high-profile events, conferences, and festivals, particularly in the media, digital, and creative sectors.

Previously known as EMAP, their portfolio includes a range of influential brands and events. Some key assets and operations of Ascential include:

Product Design: This includes WGSN and START by WGSN.

Marketing: Their marketing segment includes Cannes Lions, Medialink, WARC, and Siberia.

Sales: This category includes Edge by Ascential, Money 20/20, World Retail Congress, Retail Week, and Flywheel.

Built Environment and Policy: This comprises DeHavilland, Glenigan, and Groundsure.

Additionally, Ascential plc's acquisition of Contagious Communications, a creative insights firm, into its marketing portfolio alongside LIONS and WARC, presents both opportunities and challenges. Positively, this integration could enrich the Cannes Lions Festival with deeper insights and trend analysis, potentially elevating the event's content. However, there's a concern that the festival's focus might shift, possibly impacting its traditional appeal and character. The key question is how this acquisition will balance enhancing the festival's offerings while maintaining its core identity.

The ownership of Cannes Lions under Ascential secures the event as a pivotal hub for business development, networking, and the latest industry insights. This strategic ownership ties the festival closely to the pulse of the evolving global market, business trends, and the ever-changing dynamics of the creative industries.

What's the Spirit Behind Cannes Lions this Year?

Cannes Lions stands as an iconic symbol of creative excellence in the global marketing and communications industry. Since its inception in 1954, the festival has evolved into a multifaceted event, attracting professionals from advertising agencies, brands, tech firms, and media companies. It's a stage where creativity is celebrated, critically examined, and nurtured.

The awards at Cannes Lions are highly coveted, setting a benchmark for innovation and excellence in various creative fields. However, in recent years, the cost of participation and the competitive nature of the awards have led to discussions about accessibility and inclusivity.

While the festival highlights outstanding work and trends, some argue that the high entry fees for submissions and the expensive nature of attending the event might limit opportunities for smaller or less financially robust creative entities.

Despite these concerns, Cannes Lions continues to be a significant event in the creative calendar, offering unrivalled networking opportunities and insights into the evolving landscape of creative communications.

The awards? A cornerstone of the festival, recognise and honour the most creative and effective advertising, communications, and marketing work from around the world, setting the standard for innovation and excellence in the field.

This event? Often compared to the Oscars in its field, promises to be more than just a grand celebration of creativity; it's shaping up to be a pivotal moment in embracing diversity and innovation and addressing some of the pressing issues facing the industry today.

However, the Cannes Lions Festival has also faced significant criticism, particularly regarding its environmental impact. A notable moment of controversy occurred when an activist and former award winner protested during the opening ceremony to emphasise the climate crisis. Discussions have also arisen about the inclusivity of the festival, considering the high cost of attendance and environmental implications of business travel.

Additionally, there has been debate about the festival's content and award ceremonies, with suggestions for improvements to enhance their appeal, reflecting the industry's growing focus on climate awareness and purpose-driven campaigns.

What Can We Expect?

Scheduled for 17–21 June 2024 the 71st edition of the Oscars of the Ad world is set to introduce several new and exciting features and initiatives. Here’s what we know so far; key highlights include:

  1. Luxury & Lifestyle Lions: A new category called the Luxury & Lifestyle Lions has been introduced, recognising the transformation and disruption in the creative marketing of luxury brands.

    The Luxury & Lifestyle Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2024 will celebrate and recognise creative excellence in luxury goods and experiences. With a focus on aspirational lifestyle, this category aims to set new benchmarks in luxury sector creativity, including business model evolution and transformation.

    Judging criteria will emphasise creative ideas, strategy, execution, and results. Categories include Experience, Sustainable Luxury, Craft, 360 Campaigns, Data and targeting, Brand Storytelling, Transformation, Partnerships/Collaborations, Technology, Social Campaign, Diversity, Equity and inclusion, and Commerce.

    Each category aims to highlight different aspects of luxury brand communication and engagement.
  1. Revamped PR Lions and New Humour Category: The PR Lions category has been revamped, and a new humour category has been introduced, focusing on wit and satire to create memorable connections with audiences. This change is based on feedback from industry leaders.
  2. Retirement of Mobile Lions: The Mobile Lions category has been retired. However, mobile-first thinking remains integral across various Lions categories, but it will no longer have a standalone category.
  3. Increased Focus on AI and Cultural Context: A new mandatory question requires entrants to disclose the use of AI in their work. Additionally, a cultural context question has become compulsory for entry, encouraging entrants to explain the relevance of their work for a specific brand, market, and moment in time.
  4. Expanding Accessibility and Diversity: Cannes Lions 2024 is allocating €1 million in complimentary passes to support underrepresented and underserved communities, including registered charities, not-for-profit, and diverse-owned organisations.

    The festival is also introducing new pass options like the Start-Up Pass and Connector Pass to cater to varied needs.
  1. Call for Content and Speaker Applications: The festival has opened its annual Call for Content, inviting proposals from talents worldwide until 5 January 2024. This open call aims to provide a global platform for diverse creative voices.
  2. Scholarships and Talent Programs: The LIONS Scholarship and the See It Be It talent accelerator program for women and non-binary candidates continue, offering opportunities for mentorship, masterclasses, and participation in the festival.
  3. Focus on Creativity and Impact: The festival's agenda will continue to prioritiSe creativity, with a special focus on showcasing outstanding work and exploring the business case for creativity.

As Cannes Lions 2024 beckons, it's clear that the festival is set for a historic turn under new leadership, embracing diversity, innovation, and wellness. This anticipation and evolving dynamics under Ascential plc's stewardship signals a transformative era for the festival.

The spotlight on AI and emerging trends from the previous year set the stage for a celebration that's not just about creative triumphs but also a reflection of the industry's journey. This evolution pays homage to the unyielding and dynamic nature of the creative industry, ushering in a fresh chapter for the storied Cannes Lions legacy.

The only question left to ask is, will you be there?

- Update on April 19th 2024 -

Is just under two months,  the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is to be upon us. So it's time to start practicing your best 'thoughtful nod' and 'inspired gaze' for all those spontaneous interactions with the who's who of adland.

As excitement builds up with the announcement of a star-studded lineup and innovative program, here's everything we know thus far:

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Cannes, France, from June 17 to 21, this year's festival is shaping up to be over 150 hours of transformative content across five finely curated streams. Each segment is speckled with perspectives from the likes of Mark Ritson and Jay Shetty to brands like Guiness, P&G plus a plethroa of others.

Running from June 17 to 21 in the irresistibly charming city of Cannes, France, this year's festival promises over 150 hours of transformative content spread across five core streams.

And here are just a few of the pressing questions you’ll be hearing answers to as feature on the Cannes Lions 2024 Programme Agenda:

- What are the marketing investment priorities for the top brands in the next 18 months?
- How do Global Chief Marketing Officers measure and communicate the value of marketing within their businesses?
- How is the role of the Chief Marketing Officer changing and what new skills are growing in importance?
- How do you understand the big, little, almost-invisible everyday practices that affect pricing in a services business?
- What is the new vision is for account management, where great creative work will remain the shortcut to pricing ourselves higher?
- Can the simple act of re-imagining how we’re priced make us feel more optimistic about the future of every aspect of our industry?
- How can brands understand and navigate today's cultural climate and polarisation?
- How has the nature of humour evolved?
- What are the ways brands can leverage humour delicately, but authentically?
- How can in-house and creative agencies best work together?

- What is the point and power of play in work?
- How can you incorporate play into your company culture?
- How can commerce become a creative expression of your brand?
- How to blend technology and design to turn the transaction into the experience?
- What role will Al play in shaping the commerce experience of the future?
- How can the brands shift their focus from 'brand love' to 'community facilitation'?
- How can brands become more intimate with their consumers?
- How can brands remain agile and able to adapt to changing cultural shifts?
- What are the marketing investment priorities for the top brands in the next 18 months?
- How do Global Chief Marketing Officers measure and communicate the value of marketing within their businesses?

- How is the role of the Chief Marketing Officer changing and what new skills are growing in importance?
- How should heritage brands adapt their marketing models to unleash new forms of creativity?
- How can brands build distinctiveness whilst embracing co-creation?
- What role will communities play in the future of brand building?
- How to have meaningful exchange and expression between people and cultures and destigmatise mental health?
- How creators can be more effective in guiding the critical mental health and wellness discourse?
- How to activate an industry response to mental health initiatives and integration into campaigns?
- How can legacy brands navigate internal and external challenges to build a culture of innovation within their marketing org and with agency partners?
- How can healthcare companies leverage the power of real patients in their marketing campaigns?
- Why is prioritising patient voices essential for the future of healthcare marketing?

Festival Overview

The 2024 festival will feature approximately 500 speakers from a diverse range of creative spheres, including industry giants, award-winning creatives, and visionary thinkers. Natasha Woodwal, Director of Content at LIONS, highlights the festival's commitment to diversity, noting that the lineup includes "creatives, monks, comedians, artists, filmmakers, scientists, economists, trend forecasters, and Paralympians," reflecting the multifaceted nature of today's creative world.

Simon Cook, CEO of LIONS, emphasises the tailored content streams designed to address the most pressing issues in the creative sector today. These streams aim to equip attendees with the necessary tools and insights for personal and professional growth.

Program Highlights

Insights and Trends

This stream delves into the strategic challenges and shifts shaping the creative landscape. Highlights include sessions by Marc Pritchard of P&G and a special presentation by Tejal Vishalpura from Novo Nordisk alongside Queen Latifah, discussing creative approaches to societal issues like obesity.

Innovation Unwrapped

Prepare to explore the cutting-edge of creativity with sessions like Google’s Vidhya Srinivasan and Alexander Chen discussing AI's role in creativity, and R/GA’s Tiffany Rolfe championing commerce as the next frontier for creative exploration.

The Creativity Toolbox

Offering practical insights into achieving creative excellence, this stream features interactive sessions such as an analysis of humour in advertising by Trevor Robinson OBE and insights from Dentsu Inc. on the Tokyo Toilet project, which inspired the Oscar-nominated film "Perfect Days."

Talent and Cultures

Focused on the people behind creative successes, this segment includes talks from industry leaders like Jay Shetty, who will discuss the interplay between brands and mental health, and Ali Rez from Impact BBDO on thriving in volatile environments.

Creative Impact

Demonstrating the effectiveness of creativity, this stream co-curated with WARC will feature discussions on branding's evolution and a session by Guinness and Born Social on their innovative marketing strategies.

New Additions

This year also sees the introduction of LIONS Creators, a new initiative offering a blend of exclusive learning and networking opportunities for the creator economy. This includes a full day of creator-centric content on the Terrace Stage, acknowledging the growing influence of digital creators in marketing.

For detailed information on the festival programming and to explore pass options, including the new Start-Up and LIONS Creators passes, visit the official Cannes Lions website.

Will There Be an Official Cannes Lions Run Club?

As the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2024 approaches, the anticipation for not just the creativity, but also the lifestyle and wellness activities, is palpable. One intriguing question on everyone’s mind is: will there be an official Cannes Lions run club? Cities across Europe, such as Lisbon with its Rookie Run Club, have seen a surge in community-focused running clubs complete with their own branding. Is Cannes Lions poised to follow suit?

From the industry it’s clear that attendees are looking for community paired with intentional wellness throughout the week. There’s talk of running clubs, yoga sessions, and other fitness activities being settled into the festival's schedule. But there is yet to be an official guide to wellness from Cannes Lions published.

With such high-energy events opportunities for physical and mental rejuvenation, are non-negotiable.

What to Expect at Cannes Lions 2024

As Cannes Lions 2024 prepares to unfold, the inclusion of a run club seems more than just a possibility. It reflects a broader trend of incorporating wellness into the festival experience. Whether it’s through a community run or other fitness activities, Cannes Lions 2024 is set to offer a holistic experience that nurtures both the body and the mind.

Sport Beach 2024

Sport Beach returns for its 2nd season from June 17th to June 20th, 2024 — bringing together athletes, marketers, and global leaders to explore the intersection of sport, creativity, and culture. This event within the Cannes Lions festival underscores the importance of physical activity and wellness in the creative industry. The rise of run mania and the increasing popularity of community-focused running clubs highlight a shift towards more integrated and health-conscious event experiences. Attendees can look forward to engaging in a variety of fitness activities while networking with peers, ultimately enhancing both their professional and personal lives.

For those attending, this means not only a chance to engage with the latest in creative innovation but also to take part in activities that promote overall well-being. So, lace up your running shoes and get ready to join the ranks of those finding balance and community through running at this year’s festival. You can register here.

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Kelcie Gene Papp
Founder & Editor