Digiday covers that latest from marketing and media at the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. More from the series →
TikTok returned to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year for the fourth time, marked by a pop-up structure that invited guests to try out TikTok’s new tools — and pose for videos wearing prom/wedding style wares (think big glasses and kooky accessories) — in the infamous Carlton hotel.
It’s a far cry from when the ByteDance-owned organization was just spreading the early gospel about its mission with informal meetings along the Croisette in 2019.
“This year we have a pretty understated but relevant position [at the Carlton],” Blake Chandlee, president of global business solutions at TikTok, told Digiday. Last year, the company was shored up near Cabana Row. “We’re not a new kid on the block anymore,” he said.
TikTok isn’t the only brand to expand its footprint in Cannes this year. Netflix took over the roof of the JW Marriott with its vibrant red branding — and brands such as McDonald’s, Sprite and Tubi put pop-up activations near the Palais.
TikTok’s presence at the Carlton (the hotel’s terrace — arguably Cannes’ epicenter and gravitational pull for deal making of all sorts — was closed last year due to construction) has made it clear the short-form video app is looking to cement itself as a player for ad dollars despite the bans it faces internationally. This as well as the uncertain economic conditions tighten marketers’ purse strings.
“For TikTok it’s been pretty consistent in media that where you are matters. Not just for Cannes but also for advertisers since you want your brands where the people are or go to. Buy into the platforms, streamers, portals, etc. vs trying to drive others to new or unique destinations,” said Jon Stimmel, chief growth officer at Sabio.
Chandlee yesterday acknowledged in a panel preview for the press that it’s been “challenging” economically for the ad industry: “everyone’s felt it.” Naturally, ByteDance, the Beijing-based parent company that is oftentimes in the crosshairs of regulator’s and politician’s data concerns about TikTok, was not mentioned by name in the presser nor in the branding of the company’s activation.
Instead, TikTok played up in its press preview a variety of its areas of business, with execs passing the mic to tout everything from the importance of the creator economy to its e-commerce offerings to its ability to connect brands with engaged audiences (TikTok and Unilever announced a new ad series that will put cleaning ads in 10 international markets).
About 45 minutes into the presentation, Ray Cao, managing director, global head of monetization product strategy & operation, at TikTok spoke on the tools the company was actually building for advertisers. These tools have solidified TikTok as a burgeoning player for marketers — and have helped move marketers’ dollars earmarked for “experimental” budgets to “must buy” inventory.
“Brand safety and user safety is at the core of our platform,” Cao said.
Indeed, brand safety, along with all the aforementioned parts of its business, will take center stage in its conversations with marketers this week. Expected, too, are the data privacy concerns marketers will likely have at the ready. TikTok has its answers ready.
“We’re just building in anticipation of where the world’s going. We’re entering a whole new world. And we need to as an industry to recognize that and build for that,” Chandlee said.
TikTok merch had a presence of its own along the Croisette — from tote bags (with messages like “in my tote era” and “famous on the fyp [for you page])” hanging on the arms of festival goers along with the company’s branded bucket hats, water bottles and fans that plugged in your phone to keep the sticky heat away.
Elsewhere from Cannes
- Building on an initial partnership they announced back in January at CES, Omnicom Media Group and Albertsons Media Collective are escalating their relationship around investing in connected TV.
Maria Sharapova, former world No. 1 ranked player and Wimbledon champion in 2004, was seen on a panel to discuss an announcement by IBM and The All England Lawn Tennis Club yesterday of new AI-based features for the Wimbledon digital fan experience that will launch at this year’s Championship play running from July 3 to July 16.
The new AI offerings include leveraging generative AI technology from IBM watsonx, that will produce tennis commentary for all video highlights packages during Wimbledon. Additionally, in a first for tennis, the IBM AI Draw Analysis feature will also provide a new statistic to define how favorable the path to the final might be for each player in the singles draw.
The new features are the latest examples from the long-running partnership between IBM and Wimbledon to help fans engage fans at a deeper personalized level at scale.
“I just want to go swimming!”
— A clearly Gen Z attendee at MediaLink’s opening evening soiree with a glass of shimmering rosé and impossibly high heels in hand and her feet in la mer.
Are you fatigued yet? Pile into a ride share and take a trip with your team to Antibes — or up in the hills. Use the time and space to take a deep breath.
Featured activation: Pinterest’s Manifestival
The Pinterest Manifestival featured several stations at the pop-up at the beach, including a station to get a tattoo, ear piercing or tooth gems. Other stations ranged from a place to decorate a new luggage tag — or get your hair blown out.
What to do
10:45 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. Chairman and CEO Axel Springer SE, Mathias Döpfner will talk about where he sees AI’s place being in a media business at Debussy Theatre, Palais I.
3:15 p.m. Hear from Spotify, amp and The Coca-Cola Company are building their brand messaging through music at WPP Beach. (And check out our previous coverage of this phenomenon).
4:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. A look at AB InBev and how it became a multi-winner as Creative Marketer of the Year awards at Terrace Stage, The Terrace. (Read our coverage on the win).
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Journal House on the Rocks will feature a toast to the festival — at the end of Yacht Row.
7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Wavemaker will feature Sirius XM’s DJ Hesta Prynn and DJ Huda who will perform at Hôtel Martinez’s rooftop terrace.
9:30 p.m. Honey Dijon will be performing at Amazon Port, Plaza Stage an hour after doors open at 9:30.
Elsewhere from the newsroom
- Slim Jim is still bullish on the metaverse and NFTs — despite the decline in marketing in the space in recent months.
- As of today, the gaming entertainment and lifestyle organization Misfits is undergoing a thorough rebrand, reflecting an esports industry that is increasingly moving away from competition in favor of influencer- and creator-powered content production.
- As AI propels us toward a fully digital world, human intelligence — if one is to believe the most alarmist headlines — is destined to become some quaint notion of the past.
More in Marketing
As esports winter sets in, the companies that are best insulated from the cold are the ones that designed their balance sheets for a years-long march to profitability — not the massive and rapid returns promised by some esports companies during the industry’s initial wave of growth.
Women’s sports are having a moment. Brands, media companies and agencies are looking to get in on the action.
The Hollywood strikes were supposed to be a game changer for many of them, but the situation hasn’t quite lived up to the hype.