Marketers on Super-Yachts

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You may recognize the beautiful, beach-side city of Cannes for its flashy annual film festival. But, there’s actually another yearly event Cannes is known for — Cannes Lions, aka the “International Festival of Creativity.”

Despite its name, Cannes Lions is not really known for its creativity. Instead, it is mostly known as a booze, schmooze, and Coke fest for tech and ad executives. Nepo-babies, mega-corps, and the nepo-babies who run mega-corps use the occasion to charter superyachts and show-pony celebrities for who-wore-what photo ops

Like most industry events, there are panels and fireside chats, full of announcements scripted by publicists, and chatter about the most dire topics affecting multi-millionaires in the ad biz. The event is essentially the pinnacle of media and advertising, and it’s certainly fun and flattering to be invited. 

While influencers (like Emma Chamberlain and Tinx) have been present at the festival for years, this year, Cannes Lions made a special effort for social media stars. The festival introduced a new track for creators in collaboration with social media marketing company Viral Nation — for the low, low cost of $1200 per ticket.

Meanwhile, as a Wall Street Journal report revealed this week, creators are struggling to make ends meet. Sponsorship deals are dwindling, platforms are shrinking creator payouts, and political concerns like the potential TikTok ban in the U.S. are looming over creators’ heads.

As our columnist Lon Harris writes about in more detail, despite the new creator track, the festival still largely felt like marketers patting themselves on the back for how much money they could make using creators.

Lon’s piece is a compelling read, chock-full of thoughtful and witty commentary, colorful detail, and interesting anecdotes (like MediaLink and UTA’s appearance at the fest as they try to move on from a messy breakup with MediaLink founder Michael Kassan.) I highly recommend reading it.


Behind Cannes Lions’ Glitzy Facade

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