News & Insights

Cannes Lions 2023: A New Way to Create

Bonjour! We’re back for part deux of our Cannes Lions 2023 editorial series—recapping the top takeaways of Spotify Beach during the annual event, which saw marketers, agencies, creatives, influencers, creators and tech brands from across the globe gather to celebrate the year’s most impressive campaigns and innovations.

In part one of the series, we picked out panel highlights to demonstrate how advertisers can connect more meaningfully with their audience. In this post, we’ll focus on the panel’s creativity-focused takeaways, and how advertisers can ensure their ad creative hits the mark—both in terms of creative merit and cultural representation.

There are millions of culture-defining creators on Spotify, each producing music or podcasts in their own unique, creative way. Through Spotify, they’re able to reach and entertain fans with their creative work—and how fans react to it fuels further creativity.

For brands with their own audiences to engage, this constant cycle opens up a rich world of creative opportunity. But getting that creative pitch-perfect can be harder than it seems.

To help you land a campaign that resonates creatively and culturally, we share more insights from a slew of inspiring voices that took to the stage at Spotify Beach.

Let Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) be the DNA of your marketing strategy

Wednesday’s masterclass, ‘Connecting to The Sound of Culture’, explored the challenges faced by creators from underrepresented communities, and the efforts being made to amplify their voices through more equity-focused projects and campaigns.

Tina Mahal, SVP of Marketing at PepsiCo Frito-Lay, has championed diverse voices across numerous campaigns, including the company’s Cracker Jack mascot with Cracker Jill to promote women’s impact on sports. In conversation with Erin Styles, Spotify’s Global Head of Advertising Business Communications & PR, Tina was candid about how leading enterprise brands can drive impact.

“We are a massive company that operates in communities around the globe. And so it is our absolute responsibility to do much better for those communities… Personally I never thought that brands were really talking to me when I was growing up and I felt a bit invisible—and our Cheetos campaign, for example, is about making the Hispanic community not feel invisible; it’s about empowering them to leave their mark on their own communities, in their lives, and in their work.”

Tina Mahal

“We’re very focused on making sure that we're changing internally, so that it shows up externally in our brands and how we work. We’ve got a racial equality journey (REJ) objective, and we’re making sure that we put diverse folks in leadership positions. With diverse folks in leadership positions, that means you're thinking differently. So, starting from the inside is really key [in order to] have people that are empathetic to what you're trying to do with your consumers.”

On the same panel, Tye Comer, Spotify’s Senior Creative Production Manager, was joined by Rania Robinson, President of Women in Advertising and Communications, Leadership (WACL), and one of four contributors to the first episode of our recently launched fourth season of Outside Voice—our annotated playlist series that amplifies the voices and perspectives of creatives from underrepresented communities, from across the creative and marketing industries.

“What's important is that you look at it at on a deep level,” said Rania, on how industry leaders can show up for the diverse communities that they serve. “There's lots of people doing stuff, but you've got to do it at the root of your organization; at the root of your strategy; at the root of your business. It should run deep and into every layer of what you do. I think the danger is that people are doing things on quite a superficial level, which isn’t really going to deliver change in a way that's foundational, sustainable, ongoing, and meaningful. So to me, it's about making sure it's the heart of your strategy.”

Tye Comer and Rania Robinson

Be authentic

It’s no secret that no matter how you approach your marketing efforts, it should always represent you sincerely as a brand. Insincerity can be easily sniffed out, especially when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion—and many of our featured guests agreed.

“Authenticity is key. It’s got to fit with what you’re trying to do with your brand and your message,” Tina told the crowd. “Trying to be a symbol for the sake of being a symbol is not a great approach. When no-one really wants to talk about your efforts and they don’t want to do anything with it, then it’s a symbol. You don’t actually have something authentic that can grow to something bigger.”

Issa Rae, award-winning writer, actress, director, producer, creative executive, and star of the forthcoming Greta Gerwig movie, Barbie, also encouraged TV & Film brands to maintain authenticity in her interview with Spotify’s Global Head of Artist Partnership, Joe Hadley, on the same panel.

Issa Rae

“If you’re making something that is supposed to be authentically Black and people are like ‘No, this is not it,’ you can identify when there are no Black team members,” Issa said. “When you’re watching or listening to something that reflects an actual experience from a person of color, or a perspective that mirrors your own, you can feel it.”

“I’ll never forget watching a movie get dragged because of set design. It’s a nightmare when people are like, ‘Oh, a character would never have that poster in their room…that doesn’t make sense…nobody Black worked on this.’”

The topic of authenticity also found its way into the Monday masterclass ‘Building a Brand is More Than Meets The Eye’, hosted by Spotify’s Head of Marketing, Taj Alavi, featuring Spotify Original podcaster Emma Chamberlain, and Charlie Smith, CMO of luxury fashion brand, Loewe.

“[To maintain our authenticity], we think about the core of what Loewe is” said Charlie. “It’s one of the world’s oldest luxury brands, and there’s always been this concept of collaborative craft at the center of it. When it comes to marketing and communication, we think ‘What’s the most analogue thing we can do across digital channels?’ For example, during Covid, we created [“Show-in-a-box,”] these paper pop-up shows with pop-up models that we sent out to everyone who would have [otherwise] attended our fashion show. I think that really tapped into the moment of people doing DIY at home during the pandemic.”

Charlie Smith, CMO, Loewe

How do I ensure my ad creative reflects real-world culture and resonates with my audience?

Diversity, equity, and inclusion should be top of mind when it comes to creative strategy and production. Not only will you connect more meaningfully with your audience, but they’ll feel more affinity towards your brand, too—because you made the effort to be inclusive in your messaging. In practice, that could sound like a variety of diverse voices in one audio ad, flipping cultural stereotypes on their head, or—if you’re running a video ad on Spotify—hiring a diverse array of talent to appear in it.

And it’s not just about who appears in your ad—consider Issa’s advice and diversify the talent working behind the scenes on your campaigns, too. The impact is tangible and your audience are likely to reward you with their loyalty.

Ready to kick off your next Spotify Advertising campaign?

If you’re feeling inspired to be more equity-focused in your ad creative, get in touch using the form below, and let’s talk. Or explore how to create ads using our self-serve ads manager, Spotify Ad Studio.

Stay tuned for Part Three of our Cannes Lions 2023 review!

Want more creative inspiration? Check out these Spotify Advertising campaigns:

Looking for something a little more custom? Let's talk.