Spotify’s presence at Cannes Lions is bigger than ever. Lee Brown, VP, Global Head of Advertising Business & Platform, explains how—and why

A version of this article original appeared on For the Record, Spotify's newsroom.

This week Spotify has returned to Cannes Lions with a robust and reinvigorated presence, combining insightful panels, stunning activations, and unforgettable entertainment. It’s a jam-packed week that highlights the creativity happening at Spotify in a refreshing, interactive setting.

But our physical presence at Cannes isn’t the only thing to write home about: A wave of announcements have been coming out of Spotify in the weeks leading up to the beachside event, including news about a first-of-its-kind third-party brand safety partnership with Integral Ad Science, a new podcast ad deal with Omnicom Media Group, and the drop of our fourth-annual Culture Next trends report.

Lee Brown, Spotify’s Global Head of Advertising Business & Platform, summed it up well: “Since we last came to Cannes in 2019, we've built an entirely new business around podcasting,” he told For the Record. “And now, we know we can provide tools and confidence to help our advertisers show up in the right locations and use the right content to market their brands. And Spotify Beach is the place to demonstrate that—in-person, feeling the energy, hearing about the creative process directly from the source. That goes a long way in building relationships and our business in the years to come.”

For the Record spoke to Lee ahead of the event to get a sneak preview of what’s in store.

This year, Spotify has a bigger presence at Cannes than ever before. What sort of events and activities can attendees look forward to this year?

We're all super excited to be back in Cannes doing our iconic activation on the Spotify Beach. It's been a long time since the industry has had a chance to get together, to celebrate and recognize all the creative and inspiring work that's happening. During the day, Spotify leaders will host thought-provoking panels and talks with some of our podcast creators and industry leaders, including podcaster and journalist Jemele Hill, Batman Unburied actors Winston Duke and Hasan Minhaj, and Teenager Therapy podcast co-hosts Kayla Suarez and Thomas Pham. And then, of course, our CEO Daniel Ek will be doing a fireside chat about the future of media, creators, and fandom in his first visit to Spotify Beach.

And then at night, when the sun goes down, we have live performances from a few of the world's hottest artists, including Kendrick Lamar, Post Malone, and Dua Lipa. We're bringing together some of the best creators and musicians in the world because we know that without creativity, there'd be nothing.

We're holding several panels at Cannes themed to our ads initiatives including Outside Voice and Culture Next. How does bringing these to the stage help us tell the stories behind them?

Our Outside Voice panel features Jemele Hill, who, along with other BIPOC leaders in the creative space, is taking matters into her own hands to build platforms that amplify underrepresented voices. So to hear directly from Jemele, to learn from her experience, to make sure that we understand the content and the audience—that just gives the advertisers a much closer look at what the process looks like, the goals of that creator, and the needs of their audience.

Brands have to constantly evolve how they show up authentically, with impact, and really make that genuine connection with the audience.

Lee Brown

VP, Global Head of Advertising Business & Platform

Something that brands are struggling with today is how to show up authentically in environments where a new generation of audiences have different platforms, ways of consuming content, and ways of communicating. Brands have to constantly evolve how they show up authentically, with impact, and really make that genuine connection with the audience. So for Culture Next, we’re giving them the opportunity to hear directly from Gen Z about how they create and consume culture—and what advice they give brands trying to reach them.

What are some of the benefits to Spotify of merging our relationships with creators like Jemele Hill and the cast of Batman with advertisers at an event like this?

Creators are the backbone of our business. And so we take enormous pride in connecting them not only with listeners, but also with advertisers to help them monetize their work. There's just something so great about getting to experience these remarkable creators in-person, feel their energy, hear about their creative process directly from the source—that goes a long way in building relationships and trust with advertisers.

It also allows us to demonstrate the many kinds of content on our platform and how we’re relevant to and attract and appeal to an incredibly broad audience. Shows like Batman Unburied and other highly produced shows serve as a really great entryway to Spotify for audiences. Then they stick around to discover other amazing content from smaller creators.

Cannes Lions is also about awarding the most impactful, remarkable advertising and the people behind it. What are some of your favorite campaigns from the last year?

There are so many. I really love the Rocket Mortgage Barbie campaign for its relevance and IP creativity. It's so timely; it's so spot on. And it's taking a commodity product like a home loan and just making it super relevant and timely for today's environment. I also love what Raja [Rajamannar], the CMO of MasterCard, is doing with his multisensory approach. I think they're just in the early innings of defining what that looks like for MasterCard. And then Carl [Loredo] at Wendy's has really embraced and done some amazing work with Web3, with the Wendyverse.

And then, lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't also mention our own campaign, All Ears On You, Spotify Advertising's first-ever brand campaign, which launched last fall. The campaign video is stunning, showcasing just how powerful audio can be for listeners, showing them in personalized little audio bubbles as they move about their noisy cities or their daily lives. It also features a super killer song from Joy Crookes, "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," and it's become one of my favorites. I'm sure it's going to be in my Wrapped this year for sure.

Why should advertisers come visit Spotify Beach on the croisette?

Creativity and innovation are in our DNA at Spotify. That's exactly what Cannes Lions celebrates, and that's why we've been attending the festival for so many years. I also think it gets back to that earlier point about having our brand show up in-person, bringing our brand to life through entertainment, education, and inspiration. I think there's no better way to showcase the Spotify brand than in real life—by bringing that to the advertisers and to the audiences at Cannes. We're excited about building the future of digital audio and want to bring the advertisers and that community along for this journey because what’s coming ahead is going to be amazing.

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