How will your talk submission be considered?
We know that a moment on stage at Cannes Lions is a big opportunity and, equally, a huge responsibility.
The programme will help serve the global creative community to push the bar and strive for creative excellence – for themselves, for their businesses, for the world.
So we take this seriously and ask that you consider the Guiding Principles when putting together a content submission for Cannes Lions.
Your submission will be reviewed against these Guiding Principles, so stress-test your ideas against each principle before submitting.
Break out of the echo chamber
Break out of the echo chamber and inspire the global creative community with unconventional thinking and original problem solving. All content and thought leadership must premiere at Cannes Lions, so don't submit or rework anything you’ve presented at another industry event or on another digital platform. Are you thinking about crowd-pleasing themes or are you putting forward new ideas that will challenge the industry, disrupt thought patterns or drive a significant change? Are you offering diversity of thought in your topic, with never-been-heard-before views that might open up new ways of approaching a topic? Is this something the industry truly needs to know and hasn't been heard before, or is it an echo of more of the same, a rinse and repeat, or worse...skippable?
What we’re looking for A submission that brings in a plethora of perspectives, outside of the industry norms and stereotypes associated with this topic. It's either brand-new thinking or a totally fresh perspective on an age-old challenge. It's boundary-busting, game-changing, Titanium-esque thinking. What we’re not looking for Content that has been seen before. Submissions that reinforce industry norms and ideas. There is no consideration given to alternative perspectives. It's the same people, talking about the same stuff.
Malala on the power of storytelling for social change at the 2022 Cannes Lions.
Patricia Corsi, Halle Berry and Kristen Cavallo get stuck in and tackle the taboos around women’s bodies in advertising.
Define a single, clear message. Stick to it. And then go deep
Don't say it all and nothing at all. It's our job at Cannes Lions to curate a holistic content programme that speaks to all of the hottest topics in the industry, so you don't need to. Focus on one thing, be clear about what you're saying or the issue you're trying to address and cover it in depth and with due diligence. What is the key message you want to be known for and for an audience member or journalist to walk away from your session thinking about? Define a single, clear message and stick to it. Dive as deep as you can into the topic. Don’t just skim the surface. Remember, if you have more session ideas/topics, you can enter multiple content submissions. But make sure each has a single message and clear purpose. As Apple's Tor Myhren once said on stage, “simple is hard”. But we know from the highest-rated sessions at Cannes Lions, it's well worth the effort.
What we’re looking for A key message that’s so clear and with such depth and expertise that an audience member will feel knowledgeable when they walk away. What we’re not looking for Ideas that have no clear direction – covering several topics and issues and answering none of them in depth. An audience member will walk out of the talk without a clear understanding of what they've just learnt or say it skimmed the surface.
Be upfront about what the audience will practically take away
We encourage you to begin thinking around your content idea by answering a simple question – so what? What will the Cannes Lions audience gain from attending your talk? What change will your session incite? Think about actions over words and practicality over big crowd-pleasing messages. What practical tools can I share to help this audience in their pursuit for creative excellence? What are the key action points the audience should be scribbling in their notebooks as we present this idea? Exemplify your thoughts with some real-world examples of what best practice looks like. Actionable thought leadership is what makes it sticky and helps it resonate with the audience long after the Festival. And if you're going to talk the talk, make sure you can walk the walk – show us how it's done, offer step-by-step guides, help the audience learn from your mistakes, but ultimately be upfront about what practical takeaways they’ll gain in exchange for their time and attention. What we’re looking for Session ideas where it’s abundantly clear what the audience will gain from attending. The takeaways stand out. An audience member will feel a generous return on investment from attending. What we’re not looking for Submissions that make you say, "that's cool, but so what?" It's not clear what the audience will gain by attending this talk.
Tyler LaMotte, Marketing Director for Patagonia, presents the LionHeart Seminar at the 2023 Cannes Lions.
Kara Swisher asks Netflix’s Ted Sarandos the provocative questions about the state of streaming, from the 2022 Cannes Lions.
Ask (and answer) the difficult questions. Provoke, challenge, incite
This could be your moment to step out on stage at Cannes Lions and speak to the world's best problem-solvers. And what do problem-solvers want? To be challenged! No one wants to hear what they already know. It's really as simple as that. Don't play it safe – be daring and be provocative. The best sessions at Cannes Lions ask and answer the questions you know everyone is dying to ask out loud. Find the contention. There's magic in the contention. Be provocative. There's creativity to be discovered in provocation. Disrupt. Challenge the audience to think differently. Incite. Find a way to move them in a way they haven't been before. If you're interviewing, ask the difficult questions. 'Love-ins' don't offer our audience any new insight or make them feel challenged. Before you hit send, review your submission, and if you feel challenged to present it, or you take a big gulp and start feeling a little cold sweat thinking, "oh no, we can't ask that" – keep going. You're heading in the right direction.
What we’re looking for A session that is truly challenging assumptions and offering new (and radical) ideas. It's not only asking but providing the answers to the really thorny questions. What we’re not looking for Ideas that are “playing it safe”.
Make sure it's hyper-relevant to the Cannes Lions audience
Ensure your idea resonates with the creative challenges of the Cannes Lions audience. If you feel you could lift and shift your idea and present it on stage elsewhere, it's probably not right for Cannes Lions. The tools, tips and thought leadership you share will need to apply to creatives, marketers, strategists, creative business leaders and many more. From independents to big networks. From Young Lions to the Lion of St. Mark. Know who you're trying to reach and keep your audience in mind at all times. Stress-test your idea with your prospective audience. Get a bunch of creatives in a room and ask them if this topic/talk speaks to them and will help them do their jobs better. If it's only nice to know and not something that will help them sleep better at night, it's not quite right yet. Stay laser-focused on who you’re trying to reach and be clear about this in your submission.
What we’re looking for Something that uses creative examples and could be used straight away by the audience when they return to their day jobs – even if your ideas and examples are not from the creative industry. What we’re not looking for Broad, generic presentations that don’t reflect the real world our industry operates in.
Tor Myhren, VP Marketing Communications for Apple, unboxes how to efficiently advertise product at the 2023 Cannes Lions.
Watch how Unilever’s Conny Braams seamlessly embeds representative advertising examples throughout her keynote at the 2023 Cannes Lions.
All content must have DE&I at every level
At LIONS, all of our content has diversity, equity and inclusion as part of its core values. Demonstrate how your content idea amplifies and drives industry change. Consider the voices you’re centring and the difference they could make with the platform Cannes Lions provides. Before submitting, please ensure your session reflects the world at large. Does it speak to a global audience? Is your session inclusive? Could it offer a diversity of thought? Go beyond the industry: liaise with professionals from fields such as film, philosophy, art and music who are strongly connected with creativity and what the creative community cares about. Seek input from voices less heard from in the industry to provide a different perspective. Inspire. We won't move forward with any content submission that does not meet our values
What we’re looking for A submission that has deeply considered diversity, equity and inclusion – both in the selection of speakers to represent the content and in the core ideas and perspectives presented. What we’re not looking for Submissions rooted in Western-centric ideals and reinforcing stereotypes through a lack of representation and/or a lack of bringing in underrepresented voices, thoughts and perspectives.
Be a storyteller and build an authentic connection
All the highest-rated sessions at Cannes Lions have one thing in common: they tell a story. Serenade the audience – don’t sell to them. The thought leadership and ideas you share are about creating a connection, not a transaction. We’re not looking for sales pitches: we want progression. Think of how you want the audience to feel when they walk out of that theatre – joy, sadness, anger, excitement – and set out to make them feel it. They will remember you for it. Ensure your speakers have a strong, authentic, personal connection to the topic. Our audience will know if they don't. They should be able to present their ideas on stage irrespective of where they work because it's their passion! And if you can, don’t just tell, show. People love to see examples of work. Creatives are visual people. Even if your piece of content is not in a visual format, think of how you can share examples to bring your point to life. Be a storyteller.
What we’re looking for A story that makes people feel something – an emotional connection that you build with your audience. What we’re not looking for Sales pitches about your company or business.
Andrew Robertson, President and CEO, BBDO Worldwide, sets the scene on humour with his comical anecdote at Cannes Lions 2023.
Get inspired by Dentsu Inc. Watch MASA and PONE compose a music performance live, dialling in from across the globe.
Bring it to life. Be original in you in your format
Now that you've thought hard about what your key message is and who you want to share it, think about how you plan to bring it to life on stage. Panels often fail because they follow the same, dry format. So how can you innovate the format? Some find presentations can be too passive, while one-to-one interviews can turn into love-ins. What can you do to be different? A hint: it’s probably not a traditional panel discussion. People want to connect with what's happening on stage. Think about different ways you can practically involve your audience. Surprise us with your innovative thinking and think about going beyond a discussion format or a traditional keynote. We’d rather you come to us with a wild idea and a super experiential format we have to ask you to dial down, than dial it up. Dare to be bold. We dare ya!
What we’re looking for Originality and a splash of theatre. Innovate in the way you tell your story on stage. Bring a demo, introduce props, use some innovative audiovisual components. Something that gets people talking. What we’re not looking for Dull, overused formats with a panel of people that don’t bring anything new to the debate. If you’re doing an interview or panel, then prepare for it as much as you would a presentation with visuals to illustrate the points you’re making.
But ultimately…it doesn’t need to be perfect
We're not looking for 10 steps because "A 10-step guide..." is a snappier title. We don't need a shoe-horned special guest just because you think your idea is missing a little pizzazz. And you don't have to cover all of the industry's biggest issues in one go. What we're looking for are fresh ideas, depth of expertise, brilliant live experiences – even if they are unapologetically imperfect presentations in the making.