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

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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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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives

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Nothing announces official launch date for new Ear (stick) AirPods alternatives
Nothing Ear (stick) held by a model on white background



(Image credit: Nothing )

True to form, Nothing has just announced the full reveal date for its upcoming audio product, Ear (stick). 

So, an announcement about an announcement. You’ve got to hand it to Carl Pei’s marketing department, they never miss a trick.

What we’re saying is that although we still have ‘nothing’ conclusive about the features, pricing or release date for the Ear (stick) except an image of another model holding them (and we’ve seen plenty of those traipsing down the catwalk recently), we do have a date – the day when we’ll be granted official access to this information. 

That day is October 26. Nothing assures us that on this day we’ll be able to find out everything, including pricing and product specifications, during the online Ear (stick) Reveal, at 3PM BST (which is 10AM ET, or 1AM on Wednesday if you’re in Sydney, Australia) on nothing.tech (opens in new tab)

Any further information? A little. Nothing calls the Ear (stick), which is now the product’s official name, “the next generation of Nothing sound technology”, and its “most advanced audio product yet”. 

But that’s not all! Apparently, Ear (stick) are “half in-ear true wireless earbuds that balance supreme comfort with exceptional sound, made not to be felt when in use. They’re feather-light with an ergonomic design that’s moulded to your ears. Delivered in a unique charging case, inspired by classic cosmetic silhouettes, and compactly formed to simply glide into pockets.” 

Opinion: I need more than a lipstick-style case

Nothing Ear (stick) – official leaked renders pic.twitter.com/FrhKmRttmiOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that I want Nothing’s earbuds to succeed in world dominated by AirPods; who doesn’t love a plucky, eccentric underdog? 

But in order to become some of the best true wireless earbuds on the market, there is room for improvement over the Nothing Ear 1, the company’s inaugural earbuds. 

Aside from this official ‘news’ from Nothing, leaked images and videos of the Ear (stick) have been springing up all over the internet (thank you, developer Kuba Wojciechowski) and they depict earbuds that look largely unchanged, which is a shame. 

For me, the focus needs to shift from gimmicks such as a cylindrical case with a red section at the end which twists up like a lipstick. Don’t get me wrong, I love a bit of theater, but only if the sound coming from the earbuds themselves is top dog. 

As the natural companions for the Nothing Phone 1, it makes sense for the Ear (stick) to take a place similar to that of Apple’s AirPods 3, where the flagship Ear (1) sit alongside the AirPods Pro 2 as a flagship offering. 

See, that lipstick case shape likely will not support wireless charging. That and the rumored lack of ANC means the Ear (stick) is probably arriving as the more affordable option in Nothing’s ouevre. 

For now, we sit tight until October 26. 

Becky is a senior staff writer at TechRadar (which she has been assured refers to expertise rather than age) focusing on all things audio. Before joining the team, she spent three years at What Hi-Fi? testing and reviewing everything from wallet-friendly wireless earbuds to huge high-end sound systems. Prior to gaining her MA in Journalism in 2018, Becky freelanced as an arts critic alongside a 22-year career as a professional dancer and aerialist – any love of dance starts with a love of music. Becky has previously contributed to Stuff, FourFourTwo and The Stage. When not writing, she can still be found throwing shapes in a dance studio, these days with varying degrees of success.  

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers

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YouTube could make 4K videos exclusive to Premium subscribers
Woman watching YouTube on mobile phone screen



(Image credit: Shutterstock / Kicking Studio)

You might soon have to buy YouTube Premium to watch 4K YouTube videos, a new user test suggests.

According to a Reddit thread (opens in new tab) highlighted on Twitter by leaker Alvin (opens in new tab), several non-Premium YouTube users have reported seeing 4K resolution (and higher) video options limited to YouTube Premium subscribers on their iOS devices. For these individuals, videos are currently only available to stream in up to 1440p (QHD) resolution.

The apparent experiment only seems to be affecting a handful of YouTube users for now, but it suggests owner Google is toying with the idea of implementing a site-wide paywall for access to high-quality video in the future.

So, after testing up to 12 ads on YouTube for non-Premium users, now some users reported that they also have to get a Premium account just to watch videos in 4K. pic.twitter.com/jJodoAxeDpOctober 1, 2022

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It’s no secret that Google has been searching for new ways to monetize its YouTube platform in recent months. In September, the company introduced five unskippable ads for some YouTube users as part of a separate test – an unexpected development that, naturally, didn’t go down well with much of the YouTube community. 

A resolution paywall seems a more palatable approach from Google. While annoying, the change isn’t likely to provoke the same level of ire from non-paying YouTube users as excessive ads, given that many smartphones still max out at QHD resolution anyway. 

Of course, if it encourages those who do care about high-resolution viewing to invest in the platform’s Premium subscription package, it may also be more lucrative for Google. After all, YouTube Premium, which offers ad-free viewing, background playback and the ability to download videos for offline use, currently costs $11.99 / £11.99 / AU$14.99 per month.

Suffice to say, the subscription service hasn’t taken off in quite the way Google would’ve hoped since its launch in 2014. Only around 50 million users are currently signed up to YouTube Premium, while something close to 2 billion people actively use YouTube on a monthly basis. 

Might the addition of 4K video into Premium’s perk package bump up that number? Only time will tell. We’ll be keeping an eye on our own YouTube account to see whether this resolution paywall becomes permanent in the coming months.

Axel is a London-based staff writer at TechRadar, reporting on everything from the newest movies to latest Apple developments as part of the site’s daily news output. Having previously written for publications including Esquire and FourFourTwo, Axel is well-versed in the applications of technology beyond the desktop, and his coverage extends from general reporting and analysis to in-depth interviews and opinion. 

Axel studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Warwick before joining TechRadar in 2020, where he then earned a gold standard NCTJ qualification as part of the company’s inaugural digital training scheme. 

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

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Europe sets deadline for USB-C charging for (almost) all laptops

USB-C als Ladestandard in der EU

Mundissima / Shutterstock


Author: Michael Crider
, Staff Writer

Michael is a former graphic designer who’s been building and tweaking desktop computers for longer than he cares to admit. His interests include folk music, football, science fiction, and salsa verde, in no particular order.

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