The advertising event of the season is here, and some notable faces are missing. Taking place from June 19 to June 23 in the South of France, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is an annual gathering for those in the advertising and communications industry. It is a playground for media executives, who attend seminars, award ceremonies and other sessions like pickleball lessons and boxing on the beach.
Founded in 1954, the week-long excursion for advertisers was modeled off the Cannes Film Festival, which has been running since 1946. The advertising event hosts more than 13,000 people each year, from more than 100 countries, 280 brands and 600 advertising agencies. Tickets range in price from 955 euros ($1,086) for students to 9,995 euros ($10,900) per person—accommodations not included. In its 70th year, Cannes is the place to show face, make business connections and discuss the future of the industry.
Here’s which media and tech executives showed up—and who stayed home.
Cannes hosts a slew of themed seminars with business executives, and Amazon (AMZN) was the most represented in terms of speakers. Eight execs participated in seven programming events, discussing topics from the future of streaming to diversity, equity and inclusion strategies. From the Amazon Ads division, speakers included Ruslana Zbagerska, vice president of technology and product development; Teresa Uthurralt, director of business development and marketing; Carly Zipp, director of brand marketing; and Jonathon Cloonan, U.S. agency group head. Marie Donoghue, vice president of global sports video at Amazon, spoke about the changing sports viewership experience. Amy Powell, head of entertainment, culture and social, also attended.
Many of the companies in attendance sent their advertising teams rather than C-suite executives. That’s not the case for Spotify. CEO and co-founder Daniel Ek appeared at the event, hosting a talk with comedian Trevor Noah about the future of storytelling, and they even got a game of foosball in. Other executives hosted seminars at the event: Dustee Jenkins, chief public affairs officer; Jeremy Erlich, global head of music; Joe Hadley, global head of artist and audience partnerships and Taj Alavi, global head of marketing. Alex Norström, chief business officer, and Neha Ahuja, marketing head for India, also appeared at Cannes.
Since Elon Musk bought Twitter, advertisers have pulled back their spending on the app, cautious of the new owner’s direction. Cannes could be a huge opportunity for Twitter executives to build relationships within the advertising community, following reports that Twitter’s advertising revenue is down 59 percent year-over-year. Musk and CEO Linda Yaccarino didn’t show, but they sent other representatives for the company. Tim Perzyk, vice president of marketing and research, and Chris Riedy, vice president of global sales and marketing, appear to be in attendance, according to their social media posts. Yaccarino formerly attended Cannes while working for NBCUniversal.
Last year, Netflix (NFLX) co-CEO Ted Sarandos won Cannes’s entertainment person of the year award. At the festival, Sarandos confirmed the streaming platform would launch an advertising option. This is the first festival since the company launched its ad-supported tier, and Netflix reportedly set up an interactive exhibit in the Cannes JW Marriott hotel to educate advertisers on its service. It includes a screening room, gaming area and lounge. Sarandos doesn’t appear to be at Cannes this year, but other prominent executives made it. Greg Peters, co-CEO; Peter Naylor, vice president of global ad sales; and Jeremi Gorman, president of worldwide advertising, are at Cannes. Both left Snap for Netflix within the last year. Damien Bernet, head of advertising sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, is also at the festival.
Google (GOOGL) had a large presence of executives at the festival, six of whom are speaking at five seminars. James Manyika, senior vice president of research, technology and society, is hosting an event today (June 21) alongside Google’s Robert Wong, vice president of creative lab. They will speak about the possibilities of artificial intelligence, according to the program. KR Liu and Jonathan Johnsongriffin, executives from Google’s brand studio, an internal think tank, spoke as well.
Microsoft (MSFT) employees participated in three seminars, two of which were about generative AI. Speakers included Jennifer Creegan, general manager of global marketing and operations for the company’s advertising division; Jason Fischel, senior director of product marketing, global search and AI; and MJ DePalma, global director of inclusive business impact for Microsoft Advertising.
Five executives from LinkedIn are speaking at four Cannes-sponsored seminars, many of which covered the state of business-to-business (B2B) advertising. The company’s B2B Institute, an internal think tank, sent representatives Jann Schwartz, global head of the institute, and Ty Heath, its director of market engagement. Other guests were Melissa Selcher, chief marketing and communications officer; Jim Habig, vice president of marketing; and Melissa Furze, senior global director of customer science for the Marketing Solutions division.
Meta (META)’s roster included executives from the Global Business Group, the team that works with small businesses. Attendees include Nicola Mendelsohn, head of the group; Alvin Bowles, vice president of the group’s Americas branch; and Eva Press, vice president of the group at Facebook. Eva Chen, Meta’s vice president of fashion partnerships, is also speaking at an event tomorrow about combining art and technology.
TikTok showed with a handful of executives. They include Sofia Hernandez, global head of business marketing; Melissa Yang, global head of ecosystem partnerships; and Jingyan Liu, global head of product marketing and operation for TikTok’s Creative Solutions division, which helps businesses keep up with trends, partner with creators and develop ads. Attendees also include Adrienne Lahens, the global head of operations at TikTok’s Creator Marketing Solutions, the segment that connects creators to companies looking for exposure.
Tor Myhren, vice president of marketing communications at Apple, is hosting an event tomorrow about the relationship between agencies and brands. He also spoke at the 2019 festival, the same year Cannes named Apple creative marketer of the year. The company is reportedly looking to make a splash at Cannes this year and booked a space at the Carlton hotel to host meetings and panels. Oliver Schusser, vice president of music, streaming, sports and international, was expected to attend, but it is unclear if he did so.
Brad Lightcap, chief operating officer of OpenAI, made an appearance at Cannes and spoke at a seminar about ChatGPT and the future of creativity. While OpenAI isn’t an advertiser, it could soon break into the industry thanks to its powerful large language model. ChatGPT launched within the past year, and Microsoft, which funded it, is already exploring putting ads into the Bing Chat search results, which are powered by OpenAI’s technology.
CEO Bill Ready has been revamping Pinterest’s advertising business, and like Spotify’s Ek, he too attended Cannes. As did Andréa Mallard, chief marketing and communications officer. The two spoke at an event about technology’s impact on mental health and what the industry can do to address it.
Snap, the company that operates Snapchat, lost two of its advertising executives to Netflix since last year’s Cannes event, and it hired others from Microsoft and Google. Snap onboarded Rob Wilk, formerly Microsoft’s global head of advertising, as its president of Americas. It also welcomed Darshan Kantak as senior vice president of revenue products. He formerly worked as Google’s vice president of product management, where he managed search ads. It is unclear if Wilk and Kantak are at Cannes this year, but other representatives from Snap are. They include Julie Bogaert, head of talent partnerships in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and Resh Sidhu global director of Arcadia Creative Studio, Snap’s division offering augmented reality products to advertisers.
Update: Greg Peters has been added to Netflix’s attendance list. Other executives have been added to Spotify’s list.