One day left to go before Cannes Lions, the biggest marketing event of the year, kicks off.

Still trying to decide which talks to attend during the festival? (Or, what to watch for enviously on Twitter from your desk if, like me, you won’t be joining the masses in the south of France?)

If you want an insider’s perspective, I recommend you head over to Vikki Chowney’s piece on her can’t-miss Cannes highlights. But, if you’re looking to draw on the wisdom of the crowd – read on.

Here at H+K we’ve been dutifully monitoring as conversation of the festival has been thoroughly increasing over the past weeks. Experts from across the globe are weighing in on their picks for the top events, topics and of course creative vying for the coveted gold.

So if you want to relieve yourself of the burden of choosing, allow us to suggest the top crowd-pleasers thus far:

The talks

Over the past week, the talks have seen considerable shifts in popularity. The consistent driver of pre-Cannes buzz has been celebrity. The announcement of Demi Lovato joining YouTube’s live stream session propelled the talk to the top of the leaderboard, currently driving more than 40% of mentions overall across Twitter.

Celebrity has also helped other sessions looking to gain notoriety ahead of the festival. Earlier in the week Ellie Goulding and Universal’s session on how brands can best work with talent topped the table. Similarly, The Cannes Debate: Martin Sorrell in Conversation with Robert Kraft and Ron Howard” saw significant traction earlier this week.

China Day also features highly. We’ll be hosting our own session as part of this, with Fast Company’s Jeff Beer leading a discussion with Glory Zhang, chief marketing officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group and H+K Strategies’ CCO, Simon Shaw.

I do note that earlier this June, Burger King’s “how to suck less at being a client” was drawing significant attention. My suspicion is this is likely to return to prominence as the festival rolls on – it is definitely one to watch.

The themes

Of course, in addition to the pre-set talks some of the most interesting things to come out of Cannes are the themes – the broader sets of topics driving interest throughout the festival.

The lead up to the event has seen diversity become a flashpoint. There are a number of talks, related initiatives and thought pieces driving volume here – from Loreal’s conversation with Dame Helen Mirren to the diversity panel hosted by Getty.

One example is an Indiegogo campaign for a scholarship which has sprung up ahead of the festival to tackle diversity in advertising. The fund is selling champagne to raise money for a target of four scholarships. An interesting approach, and noteworthy cause.

Technology set to change how we view the world – which we’ve titled ‘Reality’ conversation – is the second largest theme observed to date. AI and VR certainly are looking to be big topics of conversation across the festival. This is also the most diverse theme of the lot, with immersive technologies poised to change how we engage with audiences existing across a broad range of topics. It’s also my pick for the most talked about tech topic of the festival overall.

Not to be outdone, data remains a big talking point this year.  One of the most shared articles on this topic, from the Drum, looks to thread the needle between creativity and science. You can read their take on Mad Men vs. Math Men here.


As a general rule, predictions make analysts a bit nervous. You may have seen we’ve had a few stumbling blocks of late, with the exit poll only just redeeming itself in the most recent UK election. But here is something I feel we can predict with a high degree of confidence:

What’s trending now won’t be by the end of the festival. 

To give an example: at present, there are more than double the number of social mentions about ‘Reality’ (think VR, AR, etc.) than Rosé.  Based on previous Cannes tracking, which has seen Rosé solidly beat work-related social mentions handily, it is a fair bet to say this will shift.

If you’re curious to see how the wisdom of the crowd shapes up over the course of the festival, stay tuned here as we’ll be releasing a daily snapshot of the leading themes, talks and Tweeters.

But my bet is definitely on Rosé.

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