We’re going strong after Cannes LIONS 2023 – even after hosting more than 5,000 people at SPORT BEACH. The emerging themes still on our minds: 

  1. The consensus at Cannes was that generative AI is no passing fad. But brands and marketers need to understand how to use (and not use) AI to truly realize its potential.


  2. Brands need to understand the risks of embracing polarizing issues. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t stand for something.


  3. Fandom is even more valuable than you think. How else could a dish soap company like Dawn have more fans than tech and entertainment giants?  

Get ready, because we’re diving deep into all three … 


The message at Cannes LIONS from OpenAI, Google, and other tech companies was the same: AI won’t replace creatives, it will make them more creative. 

  • BIG TECH SHOWCASE: Meta positioned AI chatbots as a way for brands to interact with fans, and stressed that AI could help generate and target hundreds of versions of ads. Expedia touted its new ChatGPT app integration. And on the sand, Microsoft Beach dazzled visitors with otherworldly sea creatures made by artists using AI tools. (Check them out in this gallery, created in partnership with Instrument.)
  • DON’T SET IT AND FORGET IT: Generative AI is a useful tool. But Google’s Robert Wong stressed at the Palais that humans with taste still need to be in charge, comparing AI to “raw clay” that will take people with “curiosity, creativity and compassion to harness.”
  • BRIGHT FUTURE: Overall, people at Cannes LIONS thought AI will change marketing for the better. Code and Theory’s co-founder and executive chairman Dan Gardner envisioned the rise of “true creativity,” where innovative people can create whatever they can imagine, regardless of their technical skills.  

READ MORE: 3 Quick Things from Cannes 2023: AI will lead to an ‘explosion of creativity’  


How AI and AR Will Transform Sports 


There was plenty of debate over purpose-driven ads at Cannes LIONS this year. But that doesn’t mean brands can’t embrace causes – as long as they’re consistent with their politics.  

  • REPRESENTATION PAYS: At a SPORT BEACH panel hosted by the ANA CMO Growth Council and SeeHer, the message was clear: accurately representing people with disabilities isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s a smart business move.  

Robyn Freye, Chief Growth Officer at Stagwell, shared this stat: only 1% of prime TV ads include topics, visuals, or themes related to people with disabilities. That’s despite the fact that more than a quarter of the U.S. population lives with a disability. Ultimately, brands have a huge opportunity to reach people who don’t feel seen in ads.  

  • BOLDEST MOVE AT CANNES: On the sustainability front at Cannes LIONS, per Adweek, Stagwell’s GALE stood out by becoming the largest agency to sign the Clean Creatives pledge not to work with fossil fuel companies.  

READ MORE: 3 Quick Things from Cannes 2023: Making the World a Better Place


The Intersection of Sport and Sustainability  


There were plenty of Spike Lee fans at SPORT BEACH. But it’s not just filmmakers, athletes, and musicians who have fans. It’s also brands.  

  • WHY FANS MATTER: Fotoulla Damaskos, EVP, Brand Strategy and Innovation at Stagwell’s National Research Group, used Cannes LIONS to reveal the Fandex, based on a study of 12,500 people who were asked about 250 brands. It found that fans are…

3.5x more likely to advocate for a brand than the average consumer. 

3x more likely to stick with a brand even if it does something they don’t like. 

  • BIG SURPRISE: Dawn had the fifth highest brand fandom score in the Fandex, topping buzzy entertainment, tech, and sports brands.  The lesson? Any brand can attract fans if it creates community and connect with consumers’ values (think #Cleantok and clean baby ducks, respectively), as well as innovate new products that people love. “It’s a purposeful journey that brands need to take,” said Damaskos. “And while there isn’t any one formula to create and build fandom, there is a playbook.
  • THE FUTURE OF FANDOM: Personalization at scale, fueled by AI, predicted GALE’s Brad Simms. 

READ MORE: 3 Quick Things from Cannes 2023: Fans, fans, fans for your brands, brands, brands 

What Turns Customers Into Fans



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What drew more than 5,000 people to SPORT BEACH at Cannes LIONS? Some of the top marketing and business minds on the planet. And, of course, the athletes. They played flag football on the sand, connected with brands over cocktails, and, most importantly, spoke their minds. From NBPA President CJ McCollum on player empowerment to Sue Bird on life after the WNBA, the main stage at SPORT BEACH was a place where major sports figures felt free to talk about more than wins and losses.

 They explored their roles as brands, entrepreneurs, investors, role models, and so much more. Below, check out interviews with film icon and Knicks superfan Spike Lee, and sports legends Maria Sharapova, Carmelo Anthony, and Alan Shearer. You can find all of Stagwell’s Cannes LIONS 2023 coverage on YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram.  

– Beth Sidhu, Chief Brand and Communications Officer

How Spike Lee Helped Make Air Jordan One of the Coolest Sneaker Brands on Earth

The one and only Spike Lee talked about his relationship with Nike and Michael Jordan, what Denzel Washington taught him about creativity, and his biggest regret as an investor. (Hint: It involves Crocs.) Watch the clip.

Maria Sharapova on Her ‘Crazy Journey’ to Tennis and Business Success

Tennis legend Maria Sharapova spoke about what she’s learned from investing in Moncler, her relationship with fans, and her advice to athletes: “equity is ownership.” Watch the clip

Carmelo Anthony Will Never Play Pickleball (But He Would Invest)

Future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony broke down how he chooses business opportunities, the importance of travel, and how went from a wine novice to launching his own wine brand. Watch the clip

Alan Shearer on How Lionel Messi Could Transform Major League Soccer

Soccer star Alan Shearer talked about how money has changed the Premier League, his experience at the World Cup in Qatar, and how social media has changed being an athlete. Watch the clip



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Originally released on


Cannes Lions Speakers’ Lounge Interview Content Will Be Made Publicly Available Via Stagwell’s Online Channels

NEW YORK and CANNES, France – June 16, 2022 – Stagwell (NASDAQ: STGW), the challenger network built to transform marketing, is gearing up for the in-person return to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (Cannes Lions) with exclusive programming throughout the festival that will be accessible to anyone, anywhere.  

Cannes Speakers’ Lounge Content Studio

As the title sponsor of the Cannes Lions Speakers’ Lounge, Stagwell is producing exclusive interviews in the onsite content studio with some of the most interesting people at the festival, going beyond the main stage to dig deeper into their best stories. More than 20 senior executives will be participating in Speakers’ Lounge interviews from brands including:

  • Anheuser-Busch InBev
  • Activision
  • Albertson’s
  • Amazon Ads
  • Beam Suntory
  • Chipotle
  • Chivas Brothers/Pernod Ricard
  • Diageo
  • EA
  • Expedia
  • Hulu
  • Lenovo
  • Marriott
  • Mastercard
  • Meta
  • Qualcomm
  • Quest
  • Twitter
  • Snap Inc.
  • Unilever

Stagwell will make the interviews available for viewing throughout the festival for anyone to access, free of charge. Follow Stagwell on YouTube, LinkedIn and the website for a behind-the-scenes pass to the best of Cannes Lions.

“We’ve gathered some of our industry’s most interesting minds together in the Speakers’ Lounge Content Studio to share how they’re transforming marketing for the world’s most notable brands,” said Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn. “We’re proud to make this exclusive content accessible to anyone, free of charge, via Stagwell’s online channels.”

News organizations that are interested in obtaining this content for redistribution should contact to coordinate.

 Stagwell at Cannes Lions

There are over 15 Stagwell agencies attending the festival including 72andSunny, Allison + Partners, Anomaly, Assembly, Code and Theory, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Colle McVoy, Doner, Forsman & Bodenfors, GALE, Ink, Instrument, MMI Agency, Observatory, Redscout, Veritas, and Wolfgang.

To Connect

If you are a brand executive or journalist interested in participating in Speakers’ Lounge interviews, connecting with Stagwell Chairman and CEO Mark Penn or leaders from the Stagwell agencies, or attending Stagwell’s events, please contact

About Stagwell Inc.
Stagwell is the challenger network built to transform marketing. We deliver scaled creative performance for the world’s most ambitious brands, connecting culture-moving creativity with leading-edge technology to harmonize the art and science of marketing. Led by entrepreneurs, our 12,000+ specialists in 34+ countries are unified under a single purpose: to drive effectiveness and improve business results for their clients. Join us at


Beth Sidhu 



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