Cannes Lions CEO on the importance of creativity and its power to drive business progress

Simon Cook, CEO, LIONS, discusses the festival’s plans to drive the marketing industry to address societal issues


Q: The Cannes Lions Global Growth Councils for Progress are aiming to tackle some major societal issues at this year’s event. Why does the ad industry need to step up?

Set against the backdrop of an increasingly turbulent world, the global ad industry is facing a number of big challenges that need to be tackled at a faster rate than any of us ever predicted. We know that creativity has the power to drive progress for people, for business and for positive change in the world. This means that the creative marketing community is in an incredibly fortunate position in that they can harness creativity to enter and create change in culture, business and the world. 

Our five Global Growth Councils for Progress are an expansion of the CMO Growth Council, which we launched with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the industry body that represents US advertisers, in 2018. They will convene for the first time during the Festival in Cannes to find global solutions, set the agenda and define their commitments on the global stage. For the first time, this initiative will include representatives from across the community - including creative agencies, brands and media owners - unifying the industry behind one collective and urgent agenda.

We are delighted that Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, will head up this initiative. With each Council comprising between 25 and 30 core members, we want them to be a platform for a range of voices who can bring new perspectives, insights and cultural context to accelerate the pace of progress at a much greater scale and create a truly global community. Our open call for Council members saw 25 spaces made available for any visionary creative professionals able to demonstrate entrepreneurship, regardless of specialism or location.

Q: What are the key issues that need addressing?

Earlier this year we launched the LIONS State of Creativity Study. Completed by thousands of people from 100 countries, it was our largest survey to date, collating views and insights from a diverse set of voices across the creative ecosystem. The five Council themes were formed in response to the global issues identified by the industry through this study as being most important and pressing to the progress and growth of their business and the impact on the planet: sustainability; diversity, equity and inclusion; talent; data and technology; and brand creativity and effectiveness.

Q: How will Cannes Lions track progress and ensure action is taken to move the industry forward?

In a couple of weeks’ time, we will be reuniting the global community in Cannes and we couldn’t be more excited to convene our community and the Councils in real life. 

We invite every Festival attendee and LIONS member to contribute to the conversation by joining a corresponding community to debate, pledge, create or lead an initiative that supports our collective move forward. On Friday, 24 June at 11am, the Council chairs will come together on the Lumiere stage in Cannes to define the agenda and their commitments for the year ahead. 

LIONS and the ANA will provide the year-round platform for the industry to convene and track progress. The Council working groups will work throughout the year on the task in hand to ensure that they are furthering progress. They will then return to Cannes Lions in 2023 to give an update on the industry’s collective progress. LIONS is in a position to provide the global platform for the industry’s agenda and we’re delighted to be able to commit to this as an ongoing, collective movement.

Cannes Lions takes place from 20 to 24 June in Cannes, France.