Bonjour from the South of France! Spotify just marked its seventh year at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. While Cannes is about celebrating the past year’s most creative and inspiring campaigns, Spotify was all about What’s Next.
For those of you experiencing le fomo1, here’s a roundup of what we heard that most inspired us throughout the week from Spotify’s home base on the beach and beyond. Of course, we couldn’t cover everything in one blog post, but we did have our own podcast studio right on site. We got in depth with the storytellers who are making their voices heard and the marketers who are pioneering new ways to reach their audiences with our podcast Culture: Now Streaming.
Spotify CEO Daniel Ek and Xavier Jernigan, host of Culture: Now Streaming and Spotify's Head of Cultural Partnerships in our podcast studio
We may be biased, but it seems like audio is having a moment. Podcast listening is up while social media scrolling is down2. From panels like The Power of the Spoken Word to The Next Frontier of Sound and Sense Branding, all across the Croisette people were talking about talking.
Sasha Wolfe, Head of Media at Taco Bell coined podcasts “the new format white space.” She joined us for a breakfast Sur La Plage with Publicis and discussed how to use that whitespace over l’œufs, “Our job is to tell a story. We have so many tools and resources to [...] bring that storytelling to life. That intimate moment of audio.”
Our own Chief Content Officer Dawn Ostroff sat down with recording artist Camila Cabello at The Golden Age of Sound on the Terrace, to discuss why audio and specifically podcasts are gaining momentum. “The intimacy of the medium is what’s taken people by surprise,” said Ostroff. “It’s a personalized experience that is hard to explain. That’s what resonates with people.” Cabello agreed, “There is a different level of depth when people do an interview on a podcast. People are more vulnerable. People get into the deeper stuff.”
Ostroff pointed out that the intimacy of podcasts presents an opportunity for marketers, “This is exciting for brands because there is a way to tell stories through podcasts in a different way than tv, film or digital video.”
We also heard from the hosts of some of Spotify’s top podcasts about what makes the format so special for fans and brands. Ashley Frangie, co-host of Se Regalan Dudas, the number one podcast in Mexico, described creating a community, “In Latin America, we didn’t always have access to a safe place to talk about subjects that were considered taboo [...] we [gave] voice to a community that has never had a microphone.”
Zakiya Whatley, cohost of Dope Labs, one of Spotify’s SoundUp Bootcamp podcasts, spoke about her experience creating host reads with advertising partner 3M, and the importance of authenticity. “Within our community, we built a network of trust. The great thing about working with Spotify and 3M is that they gave us a little leeway in our voices to create ads that were truly ‘us’.”
The Golden Age of Sound featuring Dawn Ostroff, Spotify Chief Content Officer and Camila Cabello
When it comes to the most buzzed about campaigns at Cannes, brands who tapped into culture came up strong (think Nike’s Dream Crazy). We weren’t surprised, because in our recently released Culture Next report, we saw that Millennials and Gen Zs are particularly open to brands taking a stand. In fact, 68% of Gen Zs and millennials say brands need to promote more progressive values and play a more meaningful role in society.
Throughout the week, marketers and creators alike kept coming back to the idea of moral responsibility when it comes to advertising’s place in culture. Spotify’s head of cultural partnership Xavier Jernigan told those attending the IPG Culture Remix, “You may want to be part of a cultural moment, but does your brand have agency to play in this particular space? What will you bring to the party? If you don’t have the credibility to be there [...] your campaign won’t succeed.”
Luiz Barros, Global VP Data and Digital Products at ABI also touted authenticity as the only way to successfully participate in culture, “The challenge is: how do you align the voice of the brand with people’s values, because people recognize when you’re being fake.”
Another trend we saw is that brands need to go beyond demographics, to meet their audiences where they are and how they identify. “Segmentation is no longer a box. It is fluid. It changes constantly just like we do,” said Monique Nelson, CEO of UniWorld at Cannes in Color. Danielle Lee, Spotify’s Global VP of Partner Solutions also mentioned this trend during the Badass Women panel on the Cannes Lions Beach, “Gen Z and millennials’ identities are incredibly intersectional. Gone are the days that brands can target consumers with simplistic demos like age and gender.”
Monique Nelson, CEO of UniWorld at Cannes in Color
The topic on everyone’s mind at Cannes is creativity, but it can mean different things depending on your mindset and, frankly, your job title. One thing’s for sure, the creativity discussion doesn’t go far without mentioning data.
Alex Bodman, Spotify’s VP Global Executive Creative Director spoke about how insights from data allow Spotify to be more innovative with our marketing campaigns. “Creatively [data] allows us to go deeper and be sharper.” But it’s not all spreadsheets and algorithms explained Bodman, “When we use data, it’s to create magic, not to make users feel targeted or exposed.”
Zakiya Whatley, co-host of Dope Labs elaborated this point at our Sound of Storytelling talk. She agreed that it’s important to temper data with real life, “You can never have enough data, but sometimes you have to look at the qualitative and the feedback from your listeners to make sure they are at the center of what you do.”
At Cannes, we debuted our new site, Spotify for Creatives at our hangover brunch Thursday morning, designed as a way to bookend a week of big conversation and big parties. On the site, we’re sharing Next Practices, a fresh take on “best practices” designed to inspire advertising creatives and help our partners ignite the power of audio through a new lens.
Take a look and see what sparks for you.
Spotify's What's Next: The Trends Defining the New Generation, featuring Alex Bodman, Spotify; Luiz Barros, ABI; Hannah Bronfman, HBFIT; Zakiya Whatley & Titi Shodiya, Dope Labs Podcast Hosts; Melissa Lavigne-Delville, Culture Co-Op
Nina Bibby, CMO of 02 summed up the essence of diversity and inclusion for the Economist’s morning sessions, “Diversity is being asked to the party, and inclusivity is being asked to dance.” Throughout the week so many of the guests in our podcast studio and in panels across the Croisette talked about the efforts being made to include diverse voices in the creative process from the ground up. For the second year in a row, Spotify hosted the Cannes in Color Panel, and presented See It Be It in partnership with Cannes Lions. Both events highlight voices from diverse backgrounds.
At See It Be It, Danielle Lee (Spotify) and Kerry Steib (Spotify’s Director of Social Impact) spoke to a group of remarkable, creative women emerging in their field. Lee gave a word of advice about the ripple effects of finding a seat at the table, “Inviting yourself is about affirming yourself, for you and the women coming up behind you.”
As part of the Cannes in Color series, Danielle Lee introduced a dynamic and eye-opening panel, including Carla Hassan, Chief Brand Officer of Citi. Panelists talked about what’s needed in order to speak to a variety of cultures in Latin America. Hassan told us, “It’s important to give underrepresented communities a voice in culture, that’s the only way we’re going to change culture.”
See it Bee it Workshop, featuring Ashley Frangie & Lety Sahagún hosts of Se Regalan Dudas - Mexico; Kerry Steib, Director of Social Impact, Danielle Lee, Global VP of Partner Solutions
We couldn’t end a Cannes recap without some humble bragging. We kicked off the party with our Spotify X Hulu Influencer event. More than 200 industry leaders, tastemakers and special guests including Kerry Washington, Padma Lakshmi, Russell Wilson, and Wyclef Jean came together for a DJ set by Hannah Bronfman and a special performance by Ciara.
Throughout the week, Nas, Swizz Beatz, Tove Lo, and Bebe Rexha put on electrifying evening performances at Spotify Beach. It was très lit.
We’ll leave you with a few great shots from the performances! Au revoir.
Photos by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Spotify, featuring Nas, Ciara, Tove Lo, Bebe Rexha
1 French Fomo
2 eMarketer April 2019