Cannes Lions 2023: comedy, sport and creative independence

B-Reel's Zack McDonald on comedy, sport and the spirit of creative independence competing for attention on la Croisette

I was happily surprised to see many, many great comedy moments at this year’s Cannes Lions. I’m also happy to report that my first ever appearance on stage at the Palais wasn’t one of them. Below are a few themes and topics that I found exciting. Maybe you will too.  

Comedy for real

Maybe we’re ready to laugh again. Or maybe the festival was trying to play down its recent reputation after so much focus on corporate purpose and social responsibility. Whatever the explanation, I loved watching Kevin Hart get handed the Entertainment Person of The Year award and seeing Louis Theroux discuss the challenges of keeping his uniquely comic voice intact after so many years and shifting mediums. There were also big laughs from some old friends that reminded me that the people in this industry truly are the funniest people in the world. At least their haircuts are. Most importantly was Apple and Andreas Nilsson’s Grand Prix-winning thirty RIP Leon which warmed my heart and made me giggle (again). 

Independent power

I really loved being able to connect with and root for all the independent agencies out there, since we at B-Reel proudly count ourselves amongst their hard-working and oft-awarded number. Indie Beach was a cool meeting point organized by Raven PR, where peeps from Wieden, Mother, Tombras and others hung out and talked shop. It was also amazing to see hot shop GUT win big, taking home several agency and network of the year prizes, in addition to three (!) Grand Prix.

Anti-lounge beach lounging

Stagwell’s Sport Beach stuck out a mile on the Croisette with an original take on the branded beach extravaganza. It felt like a truly diverse space filled with heart and some grit. The talks and conversations held there were a wonderful stew of sports, tech, fans, commentary and inclusion. I hope the active and exciting beach becomes a staple of the festival for years to come. 

New ways of collaborating

This was a recurring theme in many of the conversations heard around the festival, and a key ingredient in our B-Reel x The North Face talk at the Palais. The presentation was title Taking Risks and The Route Less Travelled, and I was honoured to present alongside VP of Marketing Michiel Cauwelier, VP of Marketing at The North Face and climbing goddess Caroline Ciavaldini. We discussed how the best ideas are always the simplest and examined the role of trust in client/agency relationships. It’s our shared belief that trust gives brands the confidence to scale new heights and take bigger, bolder steps forward. I hope the audience took this home with them. 

And, yes, of course there was sooooooo much AI talk. But do you really need to hear more about that right now? Didn’t think so. Here’s looking forward to next year. 

Featured image: Cannes Lions Festival 2023

Zack McDonald, Chief Creative Officer, B-Reel

Zack McDonald is Chief Creative Officer of B-Reel and is based in Stockholm. He has over 15 years experience at some of the most renowned agencies in the world, including KesselsKramer and Anomaly in Amsterdam, McCann in New York and R/GA in Portland. His work for brands such as Converse, IKEA, Nike, H&M, The North Face, Bushmills Irish Whiskey and The Hans Brinker Budget Hotel has been honored with countless industry awards

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