As someone who has worked in marketing for a couple of decades now, I sometimes despair at being part of an industry that contributes, in many different ways, to companies and brands producing and selling ever more products in a saturated marketplace, fuelling global mass consumerism and adding to humankind’s impact on the planet.

But something I discovered recently gives me hope that change is coming. And from within, no less!  

That nugget was the announcement of the themes for the 2020 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The themes at each year’s festival are structured around “the most business-critical areas of branded marketing and communications to drive the creative agenda globally.” They set the scene for what speakers will talk to and the general context of the festival. 

The themes for 2020 are:

  1. Creativity IS the Business Growth Engine
  2. Creative Disruption in Commerce
  3. Post-Purpose: Brand Accountability and Activism
  4. Your Brand is My Experience
  5. Looking to 2030: Making your Business Future-fit
  6. Applied Creativity: When Data, Tech and Ideas Collide
  7. Storytelling at Scale
  8. Let's Get Back to Brand

All super interesting for anyone involved in marketing, business, brands and creativity, to say the least! The theme that leapt out at me, though, for speaking to my own personal values and concerns was Post-Purpose: Brand Accountability and Activism.  

The intention is that this theme will “provide a platform for the world’s biggest brands and agencies to discuss how they’re tackling critical global issues, from climate change to inequality.” You had me at accountability!

The festival has included a ‘Good’ category, or track, for a couple of years now which celebrates entries for “going beyond brand purpose to use creative communications to shift culture, create change and positively impact the world.” 

It includes Lions for ‘Change’ and ‘Sustainable Development Goals.’  This latter award is judged by criteria that align directly to the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and entries need to demonstrate how they contributed to or advanced those goals across people, planet and prosperity.

The fact that Cannes, the most prestigious awards body in the industry, is shining a spotlight so directly on these crucial issues is a massive step in the right direction.

The judging will be harsh in the current 'woke' climate and brands will have to demonstrate concrete action and accountability to be noticed. It will no doubt push brands to consider the impact of their businesses on the world and instigate constructive initiatives around corporate purpose, environmental change, and social responsibility. And their agencies will be striving to smash the benchmark already set by this year’s winner, The Lion’s Share

Roll on awards season, I say! And more change for good!