That’s a wrap on Cannes Lions 2023, and in conversations on generative AI, the power of representation, and the influence of creative collisions on business transformation, so many gems were shared. Discover our six key takeaways below.  

As the dust settles after another inspiring trip into the whirlwind of international creativity that is the Cannes Lions Festival, we’ve had some time to reflect on this year’s key takeaways and “aha moments.”

What was new? What was inspiring? What was actionable? Here’s what our Deloitte Digital leaders found:

1. Marketing and Technology are no longer separate departments.

During conversations from Inkwell Beach and the Palais to our sessions in the Deloitte Digital apartment, many marketing leaders discovered it is no longer possible for creative teams and technology teams to operate in silos or pursue mismatched objectives. What used to be thought of as a pure “brand” or “advertising” activity is now deeply integrated with technology in ways that radically transform what a campaign is, how it functions, and how it is measured. Simultaneously, breakthrough campaigns are using new technologies to architect profoundly moving brand experiences.
US Deloitte CMO Program leader, Stacy Kemp, connects with Andrea Orlando and Cid Wilson from the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility at Cannes Lions 2023.

“Creative transformation must not be limited to advertising,” explains Deloitte Digital’s US Advertising, Marketing, & Commerce leader, Brian Frank. “We’re seeing a rapid convergence of strategy, technology, design, and data/analytics into an increasingly integrated ecosystem to transform how customers and brands connect. Emerging technologies are accelerating and transforming traditional creative and agency competencies in new and unexpected ways, with profound implications for how tomorrow’s marketers need to think, collaborate, and execute.”

Deloitte Digital US Chief Design Officer Meg Fath built on this idea in a panel discussion with Adobe, explaining, “We are all consumers of experiences and we don’t change our criteria for what good looks like just because we logged into work or entered a different URL. The heart of this is a transformation of human behavior, connecting digital experiences to deeply felt emotions to drive the change we wish to see.”

colorful shoes in circle

Explore how successful companies integrate data and technology with a creative-led approach to drive increasingly personalized campaigns.

Learn about personalization >

2. The “Age of With” has begun.

Talk of generative AI was everywhere at the festival this year, with many people extolling the possibilities and cautioning the risks of machine learning and its potential impact on creative professions.
Industry leaders lend their diverse perspectives to the topic of emerging hybrid media and commerce platforms. Pictured from left to right: William White, chief marketing officer, Walmart; Seth Dallaire, chief revenue officer, Walmart; Josh Stinchcomb, chief revenue officer, WSJ/Dow Jones; Stacy Kemp, CMO Program leader, Deloitte; Doug Martin, chief brand and disruptive growth officer, General Mills.

Google Cloud joined Deloitte Digital for a rousing discussion on the potential of generative AI as a creative accelerator and a personalization powerhouse. At the Equality Lounge, Deloitte CMO Program leader, Stacy Kemp, explored the potential for generative AI to be used as a tool for societal good.

What does the future hold for marketers hoping to leverage generative AI?

“This technology has tremendous potential to act as a creative accelerator for teams seeking to iterate, prototype, and personalize content rapidly,” explains Deloitte Digital US chief marketing officer and Experience Agency lead, Mark Singer, “but the technology alone is only as good as the engineers, data scientists, and creatives that learn to use, integrate, and program the tools. Humans are a key channel in making it work well.”

man looking at tablet AI image


Interested in integrating generative AI into your marketing strategy?

5 questions to ask first > 

3. Impact and inclusion are critical to marketing success.

When economic environments become uncertain, do purpose-driven initiatives need to fall by the wayside? The answer from the industry at Cannes appears to be a resounding NO. Brands seek to deepen their emotional bonds with consumers by increasing investment in initiatives focused on inclusion and impact.

Deloitte Digital Global Ecosystems and Alliances leader, Paul Clemmons, explored connecting innovation to impact through the World Economic Forum’s UpLink platform (powered by Deloitte and Salesforce) that helps entrepreneurs scale and fund their sustainable ventures, enabling community, business, and environment to thrive in harmony. His takeaway?

“Combining creativity and purpose with business transformation through enabling technologies is where the future of our industry is headed,” Clemmons shared.
We were honored to host the one-year anniversary celebration for The Creative Ladder, an initiative building the next generation of diverse creative leaders. Pictured left to right: Banoo Klein, The Creative Ladder strategic advisor and senior director, strategy and business development at Maximum Effort; Janet Foutty, former board chair, Deloitte; Dionna Dorsey, co-CEO and co-founder, The Creative Ladder; Abnia Loriston, program director, The Creative Ladder; Ayo Odusote, diversity, equity, and inclusion leader, Deloitte; and David Griner, co-CEO and co-founder, The Creative Ladder.

Deloitte Digital’s Kristin Hooper agrees about the importance of purpose in building brands that customers truly love. She also acknowledges there’s still much work to be done.

Hooper joined Deloitte Digital Health Agency leader, Joanna Ruiz, in the Female Quotient’s Equality Lounge to discuss increasing representation across industries from media to healthcare and shared her perspective that “progress isn’t done. Even amid political, social, and economic uncertainty, brands and their marketing ecosystem partners should prioritize inclusion, belonging, diversity, and representation to foster increased participation and trust from customers and audiences.”

family smiling and watching TV on the couch


Deloitte Digital recently published new research on the impact of representation and inclusion on media and entertainment brands. 

Read it here >

As an example of the ways brands and creatives can collaborate to launch purpose-driven initiatives across different industries, Ruiz pointed to Deloitte Digital and Johnson & Johnson’s collaboration with Chidiebere Ibe on the Illustrate Change project, a library of inclusive medical illustrations that aims to increase representation in healthcare.

As Illustrate Change’s chief medical illustrator, Chidiebere Ibe, explained in his Secret Speaker session on the Palais mainstage, “The launch of Illustrate Change marks a step forward toward a more representative medical education system.”

The Illustrate Change project’s chief medical illustrator, Chidiebere Ibe, sparks conversation around the future of health equity following a United Nations Development Panel livestream recorded at Cannes Lions 2023. Pictured from left to right: Francesca Weems, senior vice president, director of diversity, equity, and inclusion and global lead of the Race & Culture Media + Platforms team at FleishmanHillard; Fahad Ahmed, US Deloitte CMO Program senior manager; and Adrianne C. Smith, senior vice president and senior partner, chief diversity and inclusion officer at FleishmanHillard. ​

4. The CMO’s role is evolving rapidly.

In a fascinating series of CMOs in the Spotlight interviews at the Palais, leaders from several different industries reflected on how the needed skills and core competencies of marketing organizations are rapidly evolving, and how the CMO’s role is evolving along with it.

“Today’s CMO will be responsible for steering the business’ alignment with customer values as well as meeting the increasingly sophisticated technological
expectations of tomorrow’s customer.” 

Stacy Kemp, Deloitte CMO Program leader

“This blend of technical expertise and cultural savvy, repositions the marketing role as pivotal to innovating future business models in new and unexpected ways,” continued Kemp.

Discussions in the United Nations Development Panel Media Lounge explored the CMO’s increasing responsibility for driving a company’s purpose and climate agendas, while at the Wall Street Journal house, the focus was on how emerging technologies are changing how marketing campaigns are conceptualized, tested, launched, and measured. 

5. Creators are turning traditional “campaign” plans inside out.

The top-down creative approach that treated social media campaigns as simple channels for executing a centralized strategy is giving way to new models with social media content creators at the creative helm. These creators use their close connection and intimate knowledge of their audiences to help companies reconceptualize, re-create, and redefine how they go to market.
man using headphones and smiling
As Deloitte Digital’s Kenny Gold explained in his Future Gazer session on the Palais mainstage, “In our recent research, we found a massive trend around trust between younger generations and brands that co-create with creators they trust and love. Millennials and Gen Zs are more likely to purchase from brands that partner with those creators." 

“The future of brand co-creation will lean into R&D and product development, with creators acting as creative partners versus hired help.”

Kenny Gold, Deloitte Digital US head of social, content, and influencer

6. Creative collisions are where collaboration and transformation are born.

“The beauty of Cannes is the creative collisions that occur in every talk and meeting,” explains Gold. “Creative, smart people coming together from all over the world to dialogue and debate—it has been a blast.”

How can you turn that creative inspiration into a lasting culture of creativity within your organization? 

green orbs melting

Deloitte Digital US Customer Strategy and Applied Design Leader Jeff Wordham and US Deloitte Digital CMO Mark Singer recently shared their thoughts on building a more culturally creative marketing organization.

Read their recommendations >

As we settle back into our day-to-day work lives and start planning for next year’s campaigns, the lessons of this year’s creative collisions at Cannes will likely impact both how and what we create.

Are you wondering how to turn one of these aha moments into an emotionally compelling experience for your customers? We can help with that.