Three Takeaways from Cannes Lions 2019: Collaboration, Inclusion and Empowerment

This year more than ever there were countless constructive discussions, in-depth debates and common initiatives taking place during Cannes Lions. Once a year, the entire industry gathers, giving us the chance to connect not only with our inspiring industry peers, but also with colleagues from around the world.

From panel discussions to beachside conversations, for FreeWheel and Comcast Advertising, Cannes is an important forum to address the pressing issues facing the premium video advertising ecosystem. The industry needs to find a common language to solve the challenges behind fragmentation of audiences, inventory and delivery in order to provide advertisers with the solutions that de-siloes TV and digital video. FreeWheel is working in tandem with clients and partners to create a truly unified data-driven ecosystem that fully respects the customer experience. And we continue to break new ground on technology and innovations that benefit the entire industry, such as our incubation of Blockgraph, a peer-to-peer platform establishing the first-ever industry-wide identity layer for the media, TV and video ecosystem.


Jason Manningham, GM, Blockgraph – FreeWheel


Across many of the stages at Cannes one topic seemed to rise above the rest: Addressability. Advancing capabilities in addressable advertising is no longer about competitive advantage. It’s about finding relevant partnerships, sharing knowledge, and solving a commercial challenge that will enable the TV industry to better compete with larger digital platforms. To accelerate these advancements, Comcast Advertising has launched an “On Addressability” initiative in Cannes, together with Charter and Cox, to open more addressable inventory and strengthen the already exceptional medium of TV.


Marcien Jenckes, President – Comcast Advertising introducing our “On Addressability” initiative on the FreeWheel Cannes Lions Stage


Inclusion is a key factor for collaboration; and it needs to exist at the core of every company. The notion of ‘belonging,’ celebrating our differences and advocating for greater diversity have always been at the heart of FreeWheel’s culture and continued to be a theme for us in Cannes. Brands are speaking out more and more about what they stand for: their values, their goals, and their identity, recognizing that this provides them with a competitive advantage. We are living in a hyper-competitive market and brand identity will make the difference. Companies need to stay connected on an emotional level with their audience at every step of the marketing funnel, to capture attention and break through the noise.


From left to right: Pooja Midha, President – TrueX, Camille Hackney, Chief Partnerships Officer, Atlantic Records & Head of The Global Brand Partnership – Warner Music Group, Maria Weaver, Chief Marketing Officer – Comcast Advertising, Joy Baer, GM – FreeWheel Advertisers, Megan Clarken, Chief Commercial Officer – Nielsen Global Media, Claire Atkinson, Senior Media Editor – NBC News


Audiences are demanding that we as an industry drive these trends forward and across media we are seeing women take center stage. In particular, how women empower others to follow their own path and bring purpose and passion to their daily work is a conversation that no longer exists in the shadows. I was thrilled to host on stage a group of talented women leaders, with diverse personalities and backgrounds who are creating a ripple effect in their respective organizations.

It was illuminating to see each of these successful leaders exude their enthusiasm about lifting each other up and empowering not just each other, but the next generation of women leaders. I was thrilled to welcome on our Cannes Beach two musical prodigies: Chloe x Halle who made their names from posting cover songs on their Youtube channels to contributing to Michelle Obama’s foundation official song and performing as Beyoncé’s tour opening act the superstar who discovered the duo. A special congratulations to Halle who has been chosen to become the new “Little Mermaid” it’s a perfect choice, she is so talented and radiant. Charli XCX also blasted our 2019 “Drive Me Crazy” party with her creative, punchy and audacious vibes. They have set the bar very high for next year.


Halle on FreeWheel’s Stage


To conclude, my personal advice to women starting their career would be to believe in your journey, unlock and cultivate your true authentic self. In the future, we will probably still talk about gender balance but I agree with our panelists that progress is happening. Only together,  we can overcome industry challenges, using the power of partnerships, inclusion, and collaboration.