Since 1954, Cannes Lions has passionately supported the campaign for creativity in branded communications. We believe it can be a powerful force for business, for change and for good.

Our mission is to share this knowledge and help make the case for creativity around the world by demonstrating the tangible commercial, social and cultural impact it can have.

Here we’ve rounded up the most important creative trends of 2016 and the case studies that show them in action.

A taster of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016


While investing in creativity might once have seemed like a leap of faith, today, pursuing creativity as a business strategy looks more like a sound commercial decision. Why? Because there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that strong creative = commercial success.

In 2010, the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) concluded after in-depth research that overall, creatively-awarded campaigns were more than 12 times more effective than non-awarded ones at driving commercial results. Subsequent studies, by the IPA and others, have built on the original research – examining the impact of today’s metric-led digital marketing techniques on creative effectiveness.

The subject is discussed widely at Cannes Lions every year, with more and more clients taking to the stage to share the models they use to evaluate the relative ROI on their most creative work – that which wins Lions - versus their non-winning work.

To find out more, download the exclusive Cannes Lions white paper, The business case for creative bravery >>

Mark Tutssel, Global Chief Creative Officer of Leo Burnett Worldwide, on the value and the power of creativity to impact business.

Bruce McColl, Former Global Chief Marketing Officer of Mars, confirming that creativity does add value.

Continuing in our mission to make the business case for creativity, Cannes Lions published a new edition of James Hurman’s book The Case for Creativity in June 2016. In it, Hurman highlights the share price performance of winners of the prestigious Creative Marketer of the Year award at Cannes Lions. The prize is awarded to the client organisation that has consistently produced outstanding creative work over the previous year.

To read more about The Case for Creativity book, you can view the teaser slideshow >>

James Hurman’s book is also available to buy on Amazon.

James Hurman on stage at Cannes Lions 2016 reveals his findings about the positive correlation between the share price performance of large client companies and their creative output.


With so much work to see and so many talks to watch, it is often only with the benefit of hindsight and a little time that the really important themes emerge from the Festival. We undertake meticulous analysis of the work, the talks and the media coverage and take the opportunity to unpick what’s preoccupying the industry right now, why it matters and what it means for the year ahead.

Revealing the three most used words at this year's Cannes Lions


The discussion about issues relating to diversity seemed omnipresent in 2016. Throughout the week, delegates, speakers and juries were galvanised by the need to move on from outmoded stereotypes in the work as well as working towards building a more diverse and representative talent base within the industry itself.

There was clearly a growing realisation that just like creativity, diversity is key to success. More and more people in the industry are starting to think of diversity in terms of creative and business strategy, as well as ideology.

Campaigner and creative director Madonna Badger set the scene with an extraordinarily moving talk explaining why sex doesn’t sell. Her rallying call to the industry brought the audience in the Lumière Theatre to its feet.

Badger had the evidence to back up her argument; the #WomenNotObjects campaign (Badger & Winters 2016) video brought home just how widespread the sexualisation of women in advertising remains today.

Unilever CMO Keith Weed provided the marketer’s perspective. He shared findings from proprietary research into the representation of women in advertising, and went on to make the important commitment to eradicate gender stereotyping in communications across all Unilever’s 400 brands.
But it wasn’t just Unilever, P&G’s #SharetheLoad campaign (BBDO 2016) also demonstrated how some brands are using their campaigns to challenge gender stereotypes.


‘Trust’ has long been considered key in communications, but the focus of the topic shifted in 2016 because this year, instead of creative directors, it was the marketers and clients using the word: talking about trusting their instincts, trusting each other, and trusting their creative partners.

P&G’s former global marketing officer Jim Stengel used an Old Spice anecdote to illustrate the importance of trust for clients.

And here’s the legacy of that original ‘weird’ Old Spice ad (Rocket Car, Wieden+Kennedy 2016), providing those foundations for a successful client-agency relationship that is still going strong.

David Droga explains why trust and transparency are beneficial to both client and agency.
The trust between Droga5 and its client Under Armour has resulted in a number of celebrated campaigns, including this one - Under Armour USA Women’s Gymnastics.


Last year disruption was the word on everyone’s lips, but in 2016 the debate had moved on to transformation. Specifically, how agencies, brands and the wider industry are fundamentally altering their ways of working in the face of continuous change.

New intelligent technologies were certainly shown to be playing an increasing role in the way the communications industry works, but this was by no means the only factor at play.

Chief Creative Officer at R/GA Nick Law explains the importance of timing and structure when it comes to transformation. His key message is, ‘Don’t wait. Change now.’

R/GA’s Cannes Lions session told the extraordinary story of how the company’s ambitious project to transform its physical workspace – blending architecture, ergonomics, design and technology.

The Grand Prix-winning ‘The Next Rembrandt’ (ING, J.Walter Thompson Amsterdam 2016) is a prime example of how data is altering the way we work.

Google’s Project Jacquard illustrates how companies are looking to transform the way we live and work – as seamlessly as possible.


Cannes Lions takes place between 17 – 24 June 2017. In the meantime, look out for inspirational work, news and announcements, creative exercises and more coming to your inbox.


Thousands of people worldwide have already seen our Creativity Matters keynote presentation, which includes insights from the Festival and evidence of the business case for creative bravery first-hand.

If you would like Cannes Lions’ help to drive the campaign for creativity in your business, please let us know and we’d be delighted to come and visit you.