min read

Beyond the Beaches: Key Storytelling Trends from Cannes Lions 2024

At Cannes Lions 2024, storytelling trends took center stage, offering exciting new possibilities. Magnet's expanded team showcased how these trends can drive brand success.

This year’s Cannes Lions event was one of the most substantive and consequential gatherings of our industry.  The key from my perspective was that there are storytelling trends that were not just talked about –but are being brought to market, for brands and businesses. That’s exciting!

Magnet brought a larger team to Cannes this year than ever before –from production team members to strategists to account management. And we collaborated with 4 amazing clients, bringing their story to the amazing team at CC:DC and Inkwell Beach:  gratitude to our partners at Microsoft Advertising, GumGum, NCM and Greenhouse!

As a Cannes Lions veteran, I try to always remember the original focus of this gathering:  it’s an *international* festival of *creativity.*  (Real talk: those 2 distinguishing factors –bringing together creatives from throughout the world– can get lost as you’re searching for your next meeting in the crowded streets of France, trying to sustain a civilized temperature as you clock your 9th mile of walking for the 4th day in a row.)

Our team at Magnet show up as storytellers, working on behalf of brands –so we wanted to share our own observations from this unique festival celebrating international creativity. We’ve pulled together the key trends that impact our clients the most –including a relevant data point (qualitative or quantitative) on each trend, and our POV on why it’s relevant. 

We’ve focused our takeaways on the 3 areas where we are experts:  strategy, production, and distribution (Think / Make / Reach)... with a specialization in servicing marketers in tech and finance companies. 

Here's our summary of key takeaways from Cannes Lions:

1. Authenticity in Brand Voice 

Trend: Brands are prioritizing genuine storytelling across all platforms. 

Why It Matters: According to a recent Edelman Trust Barometer report, 81% of consumers say brand trust is a deal breaker or deciding factor in their buying decisions.

Magnet POV: Authentic brand voice builds trust and resonates with audiences, especially crucial in tech and finance where complex topics need clear, relatable communication.

2. AI in Creative Processes 

Trend: Responsible/Ethical AI is being embraced for creativity and personalization. 

Why It Matters: "AI is not replacing creativity; it's augmenting it. The most successful brands will be those that find the right balance between human ingenuity and AI capabilities," - Sir Martin Sorrell, Executive Chairman of S4 Capital.

Magnet POV: Ethical AI use can enhance creativity while maintaining brand integrity, a balance vital for tech and finance sectors where trust is paramount. Compliant and regulatory-approved AI solutions are becoming available for marketers worldwide, for the first time, in 2024.  Many of the leaders in finance firms (which are traditionally conservative organizations) are actively piloting new approaches to AI-enabled workflows, teams and tools.

3. Amplifying Overlooked Stories: DE&I = Competitive Advantage 

Trend: Brands are supporting previously underrepresented narratives, media and rising stars, like female athletes

Why It Matters: A Nielsen report showed that ads featuring diverse talent had a 50% higher likability rating among consumers.

Magnet POV: Highlighting diverse stories can help all brands connect with broader audiences and demonstrate social awareness.  They also provide a competitive advantage within your industry –as one business panelist shared, “Brands that get in on the ground floor will reap the rewards of their investment in these high-growth areas.”

4. Evolution of Commerce 

Trend: Traditional commerce models are shifting towards more innovative, integrated approaches, particularly in retail media networks (RMNs) and commerce technology.

Why It Matters: "The future of commerce is not just about transactions, but about creating immersive brand experiences at every touchpoint," - Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.

Magnet POV: For fintech especially, understanding and narrating this evolution is key to staying relevant and capturing market share. It’s also an opportunity to connect branded content to performance campaign –(in)famously described by Michael Kassan as “brand-formance.”  (NOTE:  This evolution presents critical opportunities and challenges for fintech, which we’ll be covering in a future post!)

5. Partnerships for Thought Leadership 

Trend: Brands are collaborating to stand out in crowded thought leadership spaces.

Why It Matters: "In today's interconnected world, strategic partnerships are not just beneficial, they're essential. They allow brands to amplify their message and reach audiences in ways they never could alone," - Bozoma Saint John, former CMO at Netflix. According to a LinkedIn study, content shared by employees and partners receives 8 times more engagement than content shared through brand channels alone.

Magnet POV: Strategic partnerships can amplify reach and credibility, particularly valuable in tech and finance where expertise is highly valued. (For example, Cannes Lions and Davos are proving to be increasingly cluttered –and those that compete are aligning with partners to capture hard-to-reach audiences, like the C-Suite.

6. Creator Economy Growth 

Trend: Content creators are increasingly influential in advertising strategies. The traditional “influencer” category has expanded to include industry celebrities, startup founders, subject matter experts, athletes, and even traditional celebrities.

Why It Matters: "Creators are the new media companies. Brands that collaborate authentically with creators will win in this new landscape," - Connie Chan, General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz.

Magnet POV: Creators can help humanize complex tech and finance concepts, making them more accessible to wider audiences.  Some of the most impactful campaigns featured lesser-known experts with powerful storytelling capabilities; or, unexpected pairings between brands and a well-known celebrity who had an authentic relationship with the brand category.

7. Personalization at Scale 

Trend: Brands are leveraging AI for personalized customer experiences. 

Why It Matters: A McKinsey study found that companies that excel at personalization generate 40% more revenue from those activities than average players.

Magnet POV: In tech and finance, personalization can significantly enhance customer engagement and loyalty, if done with respect for data privacy. For most brands, this requires cleaning up their data and strengthening their strategy and storytelling approach before jumping into personalization. But once that journey is started, the results are powerful and demonstrate a high return on investment.

8. Sustainability in Branding 

Trend: Increased focus on sustainable and purpose-driven marketing has become table-stakes at most large brands.  Consumers and employees are demanding it –and boards are often encouraging and monitoring these investments. 

Why It Matters:  "Sustainability isn't just about the environment anymore. It's about creating a holistic approach that considers social impact, governance, and long-term business viability. Brands that get this right will thrive," - Indra Nooyi, former CEO and Chairperson of PepsiCo.

Magnet POV: Tech and finance brands can leverage sustainability narratives to demonstrate long-term thinking and responsibility. But it’s important to be transparent and follow through on promises, as “green-washing” (stating things without honesty, and fulfilling commitments) can result in a backlash.

9. Navigating Post-Cookie Era 

Trend: Shift towards alternative identifiers and contextual targeting. 

Why It Matters: Gartner predicts that by 2025, 65% of the world's population will have its personal data covered under modern privacy regulations.

Magnet POV: This shift presents an opportunity for tech and finance brands to innovate in how they understand and reach their audiences, particularly with storytelling. Becoming more specific, relevant and strategic with storytelling is the new mandate –since cookies can no longer provide those targeting opportunities.

10. Purpose-Driven Brand Actions

Trend: Brands taking measured risks by supporting journalism, the arts, and other societal pillars are seeing positive business outcomes.

Why It Matters: "Purpose is not just about 'doing good.' It's about creating a sustainable competitive advantage by solving real problems for your customers and society," - Jim Stengel, former Global Marketing Officer at P&G

Magnet POV: By aligning actions with values and supporting crucial societal pillars, brands can create a positive feedback loop: enhancing their reputation, engaging new audiences, and ultimately driving business growth while contributing to the broader community.  (Note: This is a topic we’ve covered for years, but is going through a renaissance and maturation; and it’s one we will be writing about more in the coming months.)

While we all know that storytelling can be a force-multiplier, this year’s Cannes Lions highlighted the critical importance of being strategic with your approach to storytelling as a marketer or advertiser. 

Stay up to date on our latest posts by subscribing to our newsletter and following us on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Want a creative partner?
Tell us how we can help with your storytelling  and strategy needs.
Speak at one of our events!
Do you have an inspiring topic you'd like to present or know someone who does?
+1 (646) 486-7109
500 7th Ave, New York, NY 10018

Contact us

Let us know what you want to know!

Thank you for your message.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form. Please try again.