Cannes Lions 2024: Retail Media Unleashes Creative Potential

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity summary by LDSK

This year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity buzzed with innovation, but as Colin Lewis aptly pointed out on LinkedIn, a surprising star emerged: retail media. No longer just about shelf space, retailers are staking their claim as creative powerhouses in the advertising world.

The Rise of the Retailer-as-Media-Mogul

The Cannes beachfront was transformed into a showcase of retail media prowess. However, it wasn’t just the flashy displays that turned heads—it was a palpable shift in attitude. Retailers weren’t just showcasing products; they were confidently positioning themselves as media channels in their own right, speaking the language of media buyers and vying for a seat at the table where advertising budgets are decided.

As Brian Morrissey observed in his “The Rebooting” newsletter, the prominent presence of grocery stores as ad sellers at Cannes is a testament to how much the advertising industry has evolved.

Melanie Zimmermann's Message Echoes Through Cannes

This newfound confidence aligns perfectly with Criteo’s Melanie Zimmermann’s insights at NRF 2024: Retail’s Big Show Asia Pacific. Retailers are embracing their role as curators of valuable audiences, recognising that brands crave to reach specific demographics, not just shoppers in a physical store. Retail media is the bridge that makes those connections happen, and Cannes proved that retailers are ready to build and own that bridge.

Key Takeaways from Cannes (as seen by Colin Lewis)

Colin Lewis’s LinkedIn post captures the essence of the retail media buzz at Cannes, highlighting key sessions and insights:

  • Ascendant Network panels, curated by Susan MacDermid and Marti Funk: Candid discussions about the evolving relationship between retailers and agencies, with retail media heads from major agency groups sharing the stage with retail media experts. A highlight was the Ascendant Council lunch, where United Airlines offered a glimpse into their emerging advertising network strategy.
  • Beet TV session: This session with Parbinder Dhariwal (VP CVS Media Exchange), Marcus Harper (The Trade Desk), and Amie Owen (Kinesso Commerce) emphasised the power of audience data and set the tone for the week’s discussions.
  • Kroger Precision Marketing panel: Cara Pratt and Brian Spencer (Kroger Precision Marketing/84.51˚) led a panel with Diana Haussling (Colgate) and Dana McGraw (Disney), offering eye-opening insights into the use of data and team structures in retail media, particularly around CTV strategies.
  • Nectar360 Retail Media Summit: Highlighting international perspectives, with Paul Brooks of Coles 360 showcasing how retail media is done “down under.”
  • IAB breakfast on in-store measurement: Hosted by Yara Daher and Jeffrey Bustos, this session delved into the crucial topic of measuring the effectiveness of in-store retail media campaigns.
  • Lewis’s own session in the Palais: Focused on the combined power of creative, media, and commerce, featuring compelling brand case studies.

STRATACACHE & Scala's Retail Media Events

STRATACACHE and Scala also made their mark at Cannes, hosting events that emphasised the growing importance of data and measurement in retail media:

  • STRATACACHE’s Retail Media Change Makers Experience: This event showcased new data from IAB and the Path to Purchase Institute, highlighting the evolving landscape of retail media.
  • Scala’s European Retail Media Breakfast: This breakfast event, packed with retailers and brands, focused on the future of in-store retail media and the importance of measurement and data-driven insights.

These takeaways, enriched by the perspectives of industry leaders like Lauren Wiener from BCG, underscore the growing sophistication and strategic importance of retail media in the advertising landscape.

Retail Media: The New Canvas for Brand Storytelling

Retail media is no longer just about product placement – it’s a blank canvas for brand storytelling. With access to rich consumer data and diverse ad formats, retailers are empowering brands to craft personalised, relevant campaigns that resonate deeply with shoppers.

Cannes reinforced the idea that retail media, like TV or Google, is a channel brimming with creative potential. The future lies in campaigns that not only drive sales but also build brand loyalty and tell compelling stories.