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Cannes Lions CEO Simon Cook on creative trends and returning to the Croisette



Cannes Lions CEO Simon Cook on creative trends and returning to the Croisette

After a two-year hiatus, marketers from around the world will once again travel to the south of France for the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity next week.

Although the weeklong event took on a virtual format in 2020 and 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic, the annual gathering is now returning in-person. Long seen as the ultimate achievement in advertising, the Cannes Lions awards had some rethinking, even before the pandemic, about whether it’s worth spending a few days — and more than a few dollars — to talk shop along the Croisette.

Ascential Plc, which owns and operates the festival, wouldn’t disclose how many attendees or delegates will be at Cannes Lions 2022, but said it will have 90 partners sponsoring this year. However, some marketers say the atmosphere could be more tempered next week given the current context. (Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the festival.) The conference will also have a hybrid approach for people to remotely watch talks from wherever they are in the world.

Digiday spoke with Cannes Lions CEO Simon Cook to hear more about how things have changed and what to expect.

This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for brevity and clarity.

What’s new this year?

We’ve created five Councils For Progress. Our purpose at Cannes Lions is to drive purpose through creativity. The way the councils are going to work is we have Marc Prichard as the overall sponsor of this, but we have five councils being chaired by prominent industry people and will be made up of 20 to 30 individuals from across the globe with CEOs, CMOs and others. We run a state of creative survey and we really asked them what are the biggest challenges the industry is facing as well and we used that information as the basis for these councils. So we have one for sustainability; one for diversity, equity and inclusion; one for talent; one for business transformation and one for creative effectiveness. What we’re going to do is use Cannes as a platform for these people to come together and set the agenda to make some commitments.

Did you have difficulty getting sponsors for this year, given the uncertain nature of the world and various Covid-19 waves?

We weren’t sure at the beginning of the year how different partners would want to show up at the festival, but they are. They’re all coming and are excited, but the difference is they’re showing up in a more thoughtful way. Across the world right now there’s war, there’s unrest, and although people are coming to the south of France, we want to be sensitive to everything that’s happening in the world right now. So the big focus of our partners this year is about connection and making the most of being together so the focus will be on networking rather than parties this year.

What do you mean by that? What’s changing?

If you think back to 2019, we had so many stages, so much content. And so at any one time, you could see many, many different talks which were happening in parallel with each other. In retrospect, that’s quite overwhelming, especially for people whose schedules are already quite tight. Also, coupled with that, they really want to use time to have meaningful conversations, to make connections and to reunite with people they haven’t seen since 2019. What we’ve done is condense the content, so we have less content, but it’s much better quality. And then alongside that, we’ve created more spaces for people to network and come together and we’ve introduced new technology in our app to be able to do that.

When Publicis Groupe announced plans to exit Cannes Lions and no longer submit for awards, that prompted others to question the festival’s relevancy. What are your thoughts a few years later?

That moment has really passed now, because what we’re seeing is more brands, more clients coming to the festival and engaging with the awards than we’ve seen previously. [Editor’s note: Total award submissions received for 2022 were not yet announced at the time of this interview.] And that really is an indication of a pendulum shift from perhaps more of a focus in the last few years on performance marketing rather than the type of brand-building creative that drives business performance. And so a lot of the brands that are coming this year, if you ask them why, it’s because they’re starting to realize that creativity can be used as a leader in the boardroom and a leader for growth. So coming and understanding what it takes to win a Lion and produce world-class creativity is becoming increasingly important for the brand, their agencies and the partners they work with.

What themes have risen up in terms of messaging, aesthetics and platforms?

We’ll see a lot of work that is focused on things like NFTs, metaverse. What we’ve found in previous years is that when there’s new technology and there’s a bit of a buzz, it definitely comes through in the awards. But it’ll be interesting to see what happens in 2023 and 2024 because it’s a clear indication of whether that kind of technology is adopted when we start to not see it coming through in the awards. It’s only when the technology becomes invisible and an inherent part of the work that you’ve got a real sign of adoption and something taking off.

Crypto is in a tailspin. How does that change the marketing world’s conversation around Web3 for this year?

We saw something similar a couple of years ago with gaming. Suddenly in the work, we saw this theme of gaming being hacked for brand messages and we certainly saw that with the likes of the Grand Prix with Wendy’s, which has done that really well. When something starts to become the norm, that’s when you can kind of get an indication that it’s just become part of the landscape and the ecosystem rather than being a new shiny thing, a new shiny toy that people shout about a lot.

A number of finalists for 2019 innovation awards were brands that used tech to help people with impaired sight, hearing, mobility or other accessibility issues. Has that trend continued?

One of the trends we’ve seen in the past few years has been advertising that doesn’t look like advertising. So real business solutions or solutions for society that are tackling real-world problems rather than having a marketing message first. Last year I thought it was interesting because for the first time we started to see “creativity for good” — as a lot of people call it — but in really smart ways that actually reinforce a brand’s strategy. In previous years, what we saw was a lot of work where brands were perhaps attaching themselves to causes that weren’t very complementary and it felt like a bit of a plug-in like good for the sake of good. But now it’s coming together really seamlessly.

What other trends have you recently noticed that you’ll be watching for next week?

It’s been a very experimental time. There are lots of agencies and brands out there who are definitely trying to think of what their NFT strategy is or what their Web3 strategy is going to be. It’ll be interesting to see what sticks, to my previous point. One of the things just to counter that though is we’re also seeing — and it’s coming through in the themes and content this year — is a return or a bit of a renaissance of tried and tested marketing tactics. Almost like a getting-back-to-basics theme that’s coming through. And that juxtaposition is really interesting: There’s an experimental wave we’re all riding, but at the same time, people are really returning to the tried and tested parts that really work.

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Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance




Microsoft Teams is finally fixing this ear-splitting annoyance
Four people in a meeting room video conferencing with four remote participants.

(Image credit: Microsoft)

One of the most irritating (and slightly painful) parts of joining a Microsoft Teams call could soon be fixed by a new update.

The video conferencing service is a popular choice for many companies, meaning calls with large numbers of participants joining at the same time, and from the same location (such as a meeting room) are a common occurrence. 

However, often when multiple people join a meeting in the same room, a feedback loop is created, which causes echo, which in most cases quickly escalates to howling – with Microsoft likening the noise to when a musician holds the mic too close to a loudspeaker.

Teams’ howling

Fortunately, a new fix is coming for Microsoft Teams users. In its entry in the official Microsoft 365 roadmap (opens in new tab), the new “Ultrasound Howling Detection” describes how it aims to prevent this noise for users on Windows and Mac across the world.

Microsoft says that the update should mean if multiple users on laptops join from the same location, it will share with the user that another Teams Device is detected in their vicinity and is already joined with audio to the current meeting. 

If a user has already joined with their audio on, Microsoft Teams will automatically mute the mic and speakers of any new the person who then joins the call, hopefully putting an end to the howling and screeching feedback.

Thankfully, the update is already listed as being in development, with an expected general availability date of March 2023, so users shouldn’t have to wait too long to enjoy.

The news follows a number of recent updates largely aimed around improving the audio quality on Microsoft Teams calls using AI and machine learning.

The new updates are the result of using a machine learning model trained on 30,000 hours of speech samples, and include echo cancellation, better adjusting audio in poor acoustic environments, and allowing users to speak and hear at the same time without interruptions.

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Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK’s leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he’s not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.

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Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed




Shazam! Fury of the Gods trailer breakdown: 6 thing you might have missed
Shazam points at someone off camera in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam! Fury of the Gods lands in theaters on March 17.
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The final trailer for Shazam! Fury of the Gods has debuted online – and it looks even more charming, funnier, frenetic, and darker than its predecessor.

Shazam’s sequel flick arrives in theaters worldwide on March 17, so it’s about time we were given another look at the forthcoming DC Extended Universe movie (read our DC movies in order guide to find out where it’ll fit in that timeline). Luckily, Warner Bros. has duly obliged. Check it out below:

Okay, there’s some messy CGI and a slightly corny vibe about Shazam 2. But hey, the first problem can be ironed out before the superhero film takes flight, while the latter is part of what makes this movie series spellbinding (see what we did there?).

But we digress – you’re here because you want to find out what you missed from Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ new trailer. Below, we’ve pointed out six things you might have overlooked. So, what are you waiting for? Shout “Shazam!” and let’s dive in.

1. Who are the Daughters of Atlas?

Kalypso hands Hespera the wizard's staff in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

New movie, new villains. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

For a film centered around Shazam, we don’t actually see the titular superhero appear in the official trailer for the first 20 seconds.

Instead, we get another glimpse at Fury of the Gods‘ villains, aka the Daughters of Atlas. The powerful trio comprises the power-hungry Hespera (Helen Millen), dragon-riding Kalypso (Lucy Liu), and Athena (Rachel Zegler), the latter of whom seems particularly torn about how the sisters are going about their business.

So, why are they gunning for Shazam and his superpowered foster siblings? Essentially, when Billy Batson was gifted his abilities by Djimon Hounsou’s wizard in the film film (available now on HBO Max), one of those powers was the Stamina of Atlas. The Daughters of Atlas aren’t too happy about their father’s ability being passed down to a child, so they want to take back what is theirs – and they’ll do it so by any means necessary.

2. Mythological monsters

A dragon prepares to breathe fire at one of Shazam's fellow heroes in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Shazam isn’t the only person taking flight in Fury of the Gods. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam’s first DCEU outing featured some horror-imbued creatures in the form of the Seven Deadly Sins. How, then, do you go about topping (or, at the very least) matching what came before? Throw in a bunch of myth-based monsters, of course.

Kalypso’s imposing dragon is the most notable inclusion. It feature prominently throughout the trailer, and we even get an amusing Game of Thrones reference from Shazam – “Hey, Khaleesi!” – in the movie. Hey, Warner Bros. loves to mention its suite of IPs in as many of its films as possible.

But Kalypso’s wyvern isn’t the only fairy-tale-based beast we see. Minotaurs, griffons, and demonic unicorns are just three of the other monsters who’ll turn up in Fury of the Gods. Basically, don’t expect this to be an easy fight for Shazam and company to save the world.

3. You can’t get the staff these days

Hespera uses the wizard's staff as Kalypso looks on in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

“So I just point it and then what?” (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Saving earth from a new titanic threat will be even harder when Shazam’s adoptive family are stripped of their powers, too. And it seems that the staff, which was wielded by Hounsou’s wizard in the first movie, is the key to giving and taking those abilities away.

In 2019’s Shazam!, the titular hero gave powers to his foster siblings to help him combat the Seven Deadly Sins and Doctor Sivana. They’ve still got those power in Fury of the Gods, too, but they won’t have them for long, based by what the trailer suggests.

The footage shows Freddy Freeman and Mary Bromfield being drained of their abilities by the Daughters of Atlas at various points. The trio are using the wizard’s staff to rob the teens of their powers, so it’s clearly of major importance to the movie’s main players. 

Later, we see Shazam wielding it – not before he asks the wizard to take his powers back, mind you, when he becomes convinced he can’t defeat the Daughters of Atlas. Anyway, Shazam’s brandishing of the staff suggests he needs it to boost his own abilities if he’s going to defeat the movie’s antagonists and give his siblings their powers back. Expect the staff to play a vital role in Fury of the Gods‘ plot, then.

4. Prison break

Djimon Hounsou's wizard blows som magic dust out of a prison window in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Time to break out, Mr. Wizard. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

In order to get the wizard’s staff, it seems the Daughters of Atlas go after Hounsou’s magic wielder to obtain it.

We see Hounsou’s character imprisoned at various points, including a shot of Hespera chastising him for giving the power of the gods to Billy, Freddy, and company. “You ripped it from our father’s core,” she tells him, which implies Hounsou’s wizard might not be as mighty and heroic as we were led to believe.

Anyway, Hounsou’s wizard interacts with Shazam later in the trailer, so he clearly escapes captivity. Whether he does so alone, or he enlists Shazam’s help – does that magic-infused dust, which he sends through his prison cell window, have something to do with it? – is unclear. Regardless, we’ll see Hounsou’s character break out at some stage.

5. Is that you, Doctor Strange?

Shazam flies past some rotating buildings in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

Where have we seen this kind of aesthetic before? (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Remember when we said Zegler’s Athena doesn’t seem as keen to destroy earth as her sisters? That’s because, at the 1: 14 mark, we see her use her powers with a uncertain look on her face. You wouldn’t look like that if you were convinced you were doing the right thing, would you? 

Based on the fact she’s pushed away by Kalypso (using the staff no less), seconds later, it seems she’ll be swapping sides at some stage.

Interestingly, it seems the wizard’s staff can do more than give or take a person’s powers away. One perceived ability certainly has an air of the Doctor Strange/Marvel-based mystic arts about them. Just look at the Escher-style nature of how the scenery bends and folds in on itself when Athena is pushed back, and when Shazam evades numerous buildings at the 1: 44 mark. We’d be very surprised if DC and Warner Bros. didn’t take a leaf out of the MCU’s book with such an aesthetic.

6. Light the way

Shazam prepares to fight Kalypso and her dragon in Shazam! Fury of the Gods

A yellow bolt out of the blue. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Shazam and his fellow superheroes get a costume upgrade in Fury of the Gods. The group’s threads are more streamlined and less plastic-looking this time around, which is pleasing to see.

Fans had been worried, though, that these suits wouldn’t feature one of the first movie’s most underrated (if somewhat tacky) aspects: the glowing lightning bolt on Shazam’s chest. Shazam’s costume in the 2019 movie was manufactured in a way that allowed the bolt to physically light up, avoiding the problem of having to add awkward lighting effects during the post-production phase.

Thankfully, Shazam! Fury of the Gods‘ official trailer confirms that Shazam’s lightning bolt will glow. However, given the sleeker look of the costumes this time around, it appears that the illumination effect has been added in post. Regardless of how it’s been implemented, we’re just glad it’s a feature that’s been retained.

For more DCEU-based coverage, find out where we placed 2019’s Shazam! in our DC movies ranked article. Additionally, read up on the best superhero films of all-time or check out how to watch the Batman movies in order.

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As TechRadar’s entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You’ll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot (opens in new tab).

Away from work, Tom can be found checking out the latest video games, immersing himself in his favorite sporting pastime of football, reading the many unread books on his shelf, staying fit at the gym, and petting every dog he comes across.

Got a scoop, interesting story, or an intriguing angle on the latest news in entertainment? Feel free to drop him a line.

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You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!




You can lock Chrome incognito tabs on Android now. Bring it to the PC!

Chrome logo on a phone with a lock image over it

Image: Deepanker Verma / Pexels

Author: Alaina Yee
, Senior Editor

Alaina Yee is PCWorld’s resident bargain hunter—when she’s not covering PC building, computer components, mini-PCs, and more, she’s scouring for the best tech deals. Previously her work has appeared in PC Gamer, IGN, Maximum PC, and Official Xbox Magazine. You can find her on Twitter at @morphingball.

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