Cannes 2018: Non, Pas de Regrets

Bon Voyage, friends! Yet another excellent Cannes has come and gone and while the beaches have returned to their natural glory, we have highlights to share.

While much of the buzz this year was around lower attendance and the optics around festival-going, we showed up bigger than ever with an expansive beach residence located centrally on the Croisette, and hosted thousands of guests for a robust slate of programming that included some of the industry's leading voices and artists, along with the week's hottest beach parties. And in our opinion, the festival’s more reflective tone meant that level of conversation in the panel discussions were richer and people were even more eager to get real.

Monday: Sea & Sand

Our presence at Cannes started with a bang on Monday, with our VP of Global Partner Solutions, Danielle Lee’s panel at The Girls’ Lounge with Meredith Kopit Levien from the New York Times, Suzy Derring from eBay, and Amy Friedlander Hoffman from Uber. The topic was around "Breaking through male-dominated industries,” and the panelists emphasized the importance of being your authentic self, as well as having your own support network. Danielle offered the crowd this invaluable piece of advice on how to succeed: “You want to be yourself, but you also have to push yourself out of your comfort zone.”

Later that day, we hosted the women of Cannes Lions’ “See It Be It” for a discussion on leading by example. Spotify is an official partner of See It Be It, which is an initiative that addresses the gender imbalance in senior creative leadership and gives opportunities for women in the industry to elevate their careers.

The workshop began with a conversation between Danielle Lee and Methal (an artist who worked with Spotify on I’m with the Banned, who you can learn more about here). Following the interview, SIBI participants asked questions and shared personal stories leading to thought provoking conversation among the group.

Later, a flood of attendees headed to our Spotify X Hulu event hosted at Chateau Saint Georges in the hills high above Cannes. The lively evening featured panel conversations with our CMO Seth Farbman, Hulu’s CMO, Kelly Campbell, and some of the brightest influencers in the world of streaming — moderator God-is Rivera (Director, Inclusion and Cultural Resonance at VML), Grammy Award-winning artist Miguel, singer-songwriter Jessie Ware, and film and television stars Samira Wiley and Ramy Youssef.

Tuesday: A Brand New Day

While Monday may have been all about easing in, the panels really revved up on Tuesday.

Spotify’s CMO Seth Farbman took the stage at Le Palais for our panel “Creativity in the Age of Resistance,” which focused on Spotify’s “I’m with the Banned” campaign. The panel was moderated by Paola Mendoza of The Soze Agency and facilitated a discussion between Sam Harris, the lead singer of X Ambassadors, singer/songwriter Methal Hamadi again, and Seth, as the group touched on the role of artists and music in acts of resistance.

Said Seth, commenting on the censorship of art and Spotify’s role in connecting artists to fans: “Artists have always reflected what’s happening… It’s an obligation of a platform that connects artists and music fans.”

Liberty Kelly, Spotify Head of Sales, Americas, also played a major part in the panel track, joining the Cannes “Leading with Impact” panel, hosted by NBC Universal. Liberty echoed the themes of gender equality that we heard from Monday's panels to talk about how women can thrive in a tech-driven world. Said Liberty, “You can't grow your diversity and inclusion without being diverse." She also zeroed in on Spotify's commitment to support women in the workplace.

Next up was our panel, Cannes in Color. Seth Farbman joined Teneshia Warner, founder and CEO of Egami Consulting Group, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble and Kendra Bracken-Ferguson, Chief Digital Officer of CAA-GBG to discuss the responsibility of brands to be instruments of change and promote issues of equality. Seth explained how you have to choose in your beliefs, aggregate the culture of your company and build upon it. Marc Pritchard agreed and talked specifically about how P&G has used the voice of its brands to promote racial equality. Said Marc of P&G’s efforts, “We view equality as a force for good and force for growth.”

Meanwhile, Spotify’s Global Head of Agency Partnerships, Angela Solk joined Spotify’s Tim Ganss to discuss the “Humanisation of Data” hosted by IPG Mediabrands. The other two panelists were from Johnson and Johnson and the group discussed their varying approaches to using data in their businesses to improve customer and brand outcomes. Said Angela, “Our dataset lets us understand behavior in an unedited way. Music is a mirror.” (Learn about more data and storytelling from industry leaders in our live video from Spotify Beach.)

Global Executive Creative Director, Alex Bodman, also spent some time in the limelight. His Twitter Beach panel focused on “Brand Purpose in 2018.” Bodman spoke about Spotify’s ability to impact change. Said Bodman, quoting renowned actor, singer and activity Harry Belafonte, "When the movement is strong the music is strong.” He then went on to explain, “We have to make considerate decisions authentic to the artist and authentic to us.”

Once the sun set, we hosted a night of epic music and fun, bringing together the industry elite at the Spotify Beach, and topping it off with a special performance by The Killers. DJ Z-Trip closed out the set with a mix of beats that had the crowd energized. Tonight helped celebrate how Spotify is the place that artists go to — to connect with fans.

Wednesday: Celebrate Good Times

Wednesday morning kicked off at The Girls' Lounge with another inspiring mentoring session. Spotify’s Head of Global Communications and PR, Dustee Jenkins, moderated a panel entitled the “Power of the Female Voice,” featuring singer/songwriter Jessie Ware.

Dustee and Jessie talked about motherhood and the challenges that come with being a working woman in the creative space. They also talked about how Spotify has helped Jessie connect with her fans and Jessie’s new podcast series. Said Jessie, "Streaming has been the best, most open tool for my music to get out there." She then offered advice to other female artists. "You have to know yourself and trust your gut." Jessie followed the panel with a moving performance of two songs — “Thinking About You” and “Sam" — which she wrote with Ed Sheeran about her daughter.

Jackie Jantos, Spotify’s VP of Brand and Creative, also represented in the jury room this year, wrapping up four days of judging, with a jury of 10 to debate and award the Cannes Entertainment Lions for Music, of which Spotify was awarded a Gold Lion for David Bowie is Here, a Silver Lion for I'm with the Banned, and a shortlist nod for RapCaviar Pantheon. So far, the team has walked away with 23 shortlists, and 10 Lions, including two Golds — the second of which was in the Media category for Bowie. (Now that’s what you call crushing your 2018 goals.)

Speaking of goals, it was also a major night for Spotify at the Palais. We were thrilled to be named this year’s Cannes Lions “Media Brand of the Year.” The award is typically reserved for an individual, but was awarded to Spotify as a brand overall for the very first time this year. CEO Daniel Ek joined Phil Thomas, the CEO Ascential, on stage to receive the award, noting that while he “appreciate[s] that this award normally recognizes a single individual, [he] didn’t embark on this journey alone.” He acknowledged “employees, past and present, who have been the most integral part of our 10-year history.”

For our second night of music on the Riviera, we hosted a party at Spotify Beach, featuring performances by Scottish synth-pop band CHVRCHES and Travis Scott lighting up the Croisette.

It was an evening of amazing performances, topped by Travis Scott, who brought his notorious live show to the stage and other spots within the venue.

Thursday: Second Wind

Before the official Cannes wind-down on Thursday, Seth spoke at The Forbes panel, which celebrated the release of its Forbes' World’s Most Influential CMOs 2018 list. Seth — who was one of the CMOs ranked — and his fellow panellists discussed how it feels to be an influential CMO, with a particular focus on how CMOs can engage with cultural conversations on behalf of their brands.

And finally, to close off our festivities, we welcomed over 60 Cannes creatives to join our Brand & Creative and Creative Solutions teams for a low-key recovery brunch. Guests caught up with old friends, and made some new ones on our last day at the Spotify Beach.

Hello, Goodbye

All in all, it was a pretty successful Cannes filled with great conversations, smart insights, and amazing opportunities to connect art, fans, brands, and culture. We toast all who made it possible — and hope to see some of you in DMex!