Why Google will be back at the Cannes Lions

Torrence Boone is VP, global agency sales and brand services at Google. Here he details the most pressing industry issues he sees heading into this year’s Cannes Lions Festival — and how they shape the conversations Google will foster at this year’s event.

The much-discussed overhaul of this year’s Cannes festival — to make the awards more reflective of the way brands create work today and to bring the focus back to the creativity that drives business — is a positive response to the challenges the ad industry has faced over the last 12 months.

I’ve met with dozens of CMOs, agency execs, and industry leaders over the past year, and there are three challenges that I hear repeatedly. None are problems that can be solved in isolation by any one company alone.

1. The lack of diversity in the talent behind the work

Only 54% of creatives agree that diversity in the creative industry has gotten better in the last five years. That matters for a lot of reasons. Because diverse teams produce better business outcomes. Because millennials are the most diverse generation in history and expect to see themselves reflected in ads. And because they expect brands to take a stand on diversity and race-related issues.

2. The need for digital advertising to work harder, break through, and be relevant

The next-best thing to watch is only a tap or a scroll away. That means ads have to work harder to compete for people’s attention. The days of a guaranteed captive audience are long gone, which means the stories brands tell and the tools, platforms, and people they use to tell them have to work harder than ever. The key is being relevant.

3. Questions around the level of trust in advertising

As an industry, we’re all familiar with the moment of reckoning happening in advertising right now. Consumers are taking a more careful eye toward how their data is used, and brands are looking for accountable partners and platforms to help them navigate.

What Google hopes to accomplish at Cannes this year

These are big issues, and they’ll take the whole industry working together to solve them. And the Cannes Lions Festival — the largest annual gathering of industry leaders — remains the best place to address these challenges we all face.

With that in mind, here are the conversations we look forward to fostering this year in Cannes.

First, we’re pressing for progress on diversity and creativity. Robert Wong and Steve Vranakis from Google’s Creative Lab will be on stage at the Palais to discuss the central role that a diverse creative community can play in our industry. We’ll also be launching the first Google Creative Campus at Cannes in partnership with the Roger Hatchuel Academy. A group of 45 students — at least half of whom are from groups historically underrepresented in advertising and marketing — will participate in the academy.

We’re also offering a platform for discussion and learning about what matters next for creativity through a week of specially curated Lightning Talks that we’ll live stream from The Google Beach. A diverse cast of speakers from the UN, WPP, AMV BBDO, Carat, BBH, Ogilvy, and others will tackle big questions like, What does the agency of the future look like?, Why is creative not speaking to women?, and How can data drive better creative?

Finally, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki will make her debut at the Palais, discussing what matters next for audiences and brands. Joining Wojcicki will be L’Oréal Chief Digital Officer, Lubomira Rochet, who will reveal how the beauty giant has embraced digital, along with YouTube’s Global Head of Music, Lyor Cohen, who will share his vision for the platform and the coming “golden age” of music.

We’re excited to partner and collaborate with all of you in addressing these challenges. Come find Google at Cannes Lions, and together we’ll work out what matters next.

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