By Theda Braddock

Every year the Cannes croisette is abuzz with the latest goings-on in the ad industry – trends, results, rumors and predictions, you name it. It’s a crash course in advertising and whether you’re attending a panel, gossiping with friends or eavesdropping on a neighboring table, you’re bound to pick up some interesting factoids.

Here’s a look at what was going on in and outside the palais:

Speed – With culture moving as quickly as it is, marketers were stressing the need for speed. Reacting to news and trending topics on social media requires a high degree of monitoring and creative teams that are able to think on their feet and create content. That can get tricky when it comes to the need for…

Authenticity – Brands are facing more fickle generations and entering markets where audiences typically reject advertising. In order to stay relevant with, say, ESL fans, brands should study the market, enlist the help of experts and find the right partners to guide them through the new territory. Figuring out the right balance sometimes comes down to…

Data vs. Intuition – As technology improves our ability to gage our audience and analyze metrics, some marketers are turning back the clock and using a pre-data approach – relying on intuition. This might mean going against every logic, but sometimes it just feels right. Technology is still part of the conversation, however, and it’s never been more focused on….

Voice – With a third of American households owning a home device, it’s no mystery brands are chasing after the latest way of reaching consumers. From programming to partnerships, the channel is teeming with opportunities brands are scrambling to pinpoint. Speaking of voices, everyone was interested in hearing from…

Martin Sorrell – Despite his recent ouster at WPP and allegations about using company money to pay prostitutes, Sir Martin Sorrell was in attendance. Undeterred by media coverage, he came to talk about his new agency S4 and, for the record he did address the allegations, which he denied. And, when it came to special guests, the Lions didn’t disappoint, with scheduled guests like Conan O’Brian and David Schwimmer giving talks, to groups like the Killers, who played the…

Spotify Party. Wristbands to the annual shindig, as well as those hosted by MassiveMedia & MediaMonks, Sizzer and Shots, were as hot as ever, traded around the Croisette like currency. But despite the popularity of the festival’s traditional beach parties…

Attendance was noticeably lower than previous years (early figures put the drop at 20% from last year). The remarkably high absence seems due both to Publicis’s decision to opt out of the award show and industry-wide cost-cutting measures. Fewer agencies are sending people and those that are, are being more selective. All this comes despite festival organizers’ efforts over the past year to reform the awards by eliminating categories and reducing prices. But the new streamlined version wasn’t appreciated by everyone, given the…

New compact schedule. The shortened 5-day festival meant cramming a lot more into fewer days, and journalists and attendees were struggling to keep up. Between the talks and all the results released each evening, there was a general feeling that everyone was crunched for time.

The 2018 edition of the festival was full of insights and surprises, creativity and inspiration, but was also tainted by some missteps. No doubt changes will be made to the next festival, and we already know we’ll be buzzing about it next year.