News & Insights

Cannes Lions 2023: A New Way to Connect

Last week, Spotify returned to the south of France for The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. The event brought global marketers, agencies, creatives, influencers, creators and tech platforms together to showcase some of the most outstanding campaigns the industry has seen over the past year—while down on Spotify Beach we welcomed a stellar lineup of talent to the stage for enriching daytime masterclasses, interactive playdates, and unforgettable evening concerts.

This year, we’re recapping the highlights across three blog posts, with a lens on how marketers can turn insights into action when advertising on Spotify.

There are now 500M+ listeners on Spotify across 184 markets—and more than half are ad-supported.1 That’s a giant audience for marketers to tap into. The question is: How do you reach the people who specifically matter to your brand? And how do you connect with them on a meaningful level?

Over four days on Spotify Beach, we heard from numerous voices weighing in to offer some perspective.

Maintain your core values—and watch your audience grow

Tuesday kicked off with our second masterclass of the week, ‘The Cutting Edge of Creativity’, hosted by Spotify Founder & CEO Daniel Ek who was joined by Trevor Noah—ahead of the launch of his upcoming Spotify Original Podcast—to discuss the future of storytelling and the art of navigating different mediums to forge a deeper connection with worldwide audiences. Specifically, Trevor shared tips on how brands can use podcasts and social media to interact with audiences in more meaningful ways, and effectively leverage new technologies in an ever-evolving media landscape.

Daniel Ek and Trevor Noah

“Social media is amazing at connecting people, but [it can be] terrible at providing the context for that connection” notes Trevor. “Without context, every interaction can be misinterpreted. When it comes to brands, it’s important to rely on people who natively understand whichever platform they’re using—whether it’s TikTok, Twitter, or Snapchat, every one of them has its own language. And the brands who do it well are the brands that trust people who intuitively understand it."

"Some brands have done a great job because they don’t push “the brand”. For example, Lotus posts content on TikTok that’s almost never about the car—they just have fun with it, and their brand awareness amongst Gen Zs has grown exponentially. That shows they understand they don’t need to hold onto their brand with a vice grip—instead they play in a way that’s consistent with how people are playing on these platforms, without trying to make it seem like they have an opinion. And that’s where I think brands go wrong sometimes—they act like they have an opinion when they don’t. If you don’t have an opinion, don’t share it. Just be a brand, there’s nothing wrong with that. Have fun, and let people enjoy [your content]. But when brands step out and offer an opinion [that’s disingenuous], I think that’s when it all comes crumbling down.”

According to research, Spotify is the one of the top five most-trusted brands amongst Gen Zs2—so Trevor’s advice should strike a chord with advertisers who want to reach young audiences on Spotify.

Speaking of Gen Zs, Emma Chamberlain, host of the Spotify podcast anything goes with emma chamberlain, along with Charlie Smith, CMO of Loewe, joined our Head of Marketing, Taj Alavi, on stage for the Monday masterclass ‘Building a Brand is More Than Meets The Eye’. The trio talked about brand building, brand positioning, and how both creators and brands can more deeply connect with their audience.

Fans of Emma may know the podcaster isn’t just an audio content creator: In 2020 she founded her own coffee company, Chamberlain Coffee, and on stage she revealed how the experience has taught her a lot about adaptation.

“It’s been a journey. I’m learning as I go. I feel like there’s never a perfect brand strategy because the world around us is constantly changing. If you put together a perfect plan [and stick with it no matter what], it will never work—you have to adapt. I think my brand is going to grow and mature with me, because I think my taste will evolve and I don’t see why the brand can’t either. But I think that’s what makes a brand fun: When it remains true to its core values, but is able to evolve in a way that is reactive to its audience.”

From left: Charlie Smith, Taj Alavi, Emma Chamberlain

Use audio to ensure your brand name sticks

Asked how Loewe uses audio to connect with their audience, Charlie reflected on the importance of the format for improving brand awareness.

“Admittedly, ‘Loewe’ is incredibly hard to pronounce—it’s five letters and you can say it in many different ways. So for us, audio is hugely important because word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to grow a brand—and if everyone is saying our brand name differently, it’s going to be very hard for us to grow. So we look for as many opportunities as possible [to use audio] to make the brand stick in people’s heads.”

Match creative with context

Like last year, there were several meeting spaces to be found across Spotify Beach—including the brand-new ‘Sonic Sips’ coffee bar, which offered thirsty attendees the chance to learn all about our recently released Sonic Science research, in between sips of iced lattes and cold brews.

Marion Boeri, Spotify’s Associate Director of Insights & Activation, was on hand to offer deeper insight into the report.

“With our Sonic Science research, we discovered that what listeners stream is a reflection of their real-life moments—and this powerful data can provide our advertising partners with valuable information to understand the context their audiences are in when streaming Spotify” Marion told our on-the-ground team. “Being contextually relevant—using the right message, at the right time, at the right place—is the best way to create an advertising experience that won't be perceived as a disruption, but positively received. At the end of the day, the last thing we want to do at Spotify Advertising is kill our listeners’ vibe. We want to help brands create advertising experiences that can be additive to listening moments across the day.”

Spotify Beach, Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2023

Sonic Science Volume 2 also revealed that participants actually felt better after listening to Spotify—regardless of when they listened, what they listened to, and what they were doing at the time.3 It also found that Spotify listeners’ high level of engagement with music and podcasts generally stays consistent while listening to audio ads that follow.

So, why should these findings matter to your brand? Well, they indicate that Spotify engages listeners at every moment throughout their day, making it possible for brands to reach them at a time and place that’s exactly right for their message. They also show how Spotify’s unique fan engagement and personalization creates opportunities for brands to engage with their audience in ways other platforms may not be able.

How can I leverage these insights to connect more meaningfully with my audience?

By understanding the highly personal role audio plays, advertisers can take appropriate steps to engage Spotify listeners in any given moment—with the right message, and in the right tone.

There are plenty of tips and tricks for nailing your creative—which we’ll explore in the next post of this Cannes Lions recap series—but before you get to that, consider the context you want your ad to be heard in: What activity is your audience likely to be engaged in when your ad reaches them? How are they likely to feel at that time? Lean into the mood and the moment of your audience to make sure your message matches their vibe.

Bear in mind Trevor’s words and also think about how the platform you’re using—whether Spotify or otherwise—is used by your audience, and how that should shape your message.

Ready to kick off your next Spotify Advertising campaign?

If you’re feeling inspired to connect more meaningfully with your audience, get in touch using the form below. Or explore how to create ads using our self-serve ads manager, Spotify Ad Studio.

Stay tuned for the next part of our Cannes Lions 2023 review!

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