When Wenda Harris Millard discusses the evolution of the Cannes Lions festival she does so with many years of perspective. What she sees now is an efficient venue where people gather to engage with others “who have real implications for the future of their business.”
Millard is Vice Chairman of MediaLink, the strategic advisory and business development firm that has long been an integral part of Cannes. That relationship was a walkup to the 2016 acquisition of MediaLink by Cannes owner Ascential plc and Millard’s assignment to run MediaLink’s first office outside of the United States, in London.
“I think that people are really looking for efficiency in many ways,” Millard says in this interview with Beet.TV. “They want to meet as many people as they can and Cannes is absolutely the place to do that.”
Less than 10 years ago, Cannes was predominantly a conference about creativity in advertising. Over the years, ad-tech providers began to make their presence known along with brand marketers, media companies and celebrities “Now we have the big broadcasters last year, every single one of them,” Millard says.
What hasn’t changed is the fundamental role of advertising, which she describes as “creating desire.” In order to do so, it’s better to have “more information versus less.”
Data derived from technology affords the opportunity of being smarter about consumers’ desires and needs. “It also can help measure the impact in a way that we’ve never had before,” Millard adds.
What has changed is that marketers are no longer the stewards of their brands. Consumers have taken on that role.
Millard knows from her work at MediaLink that among companies’ top priorities are finding good talent and making sure their organizations are structured in away to be “able to take advantage of all things digital.” What really matters now is speed “and it kills you if you don’t have it in this environment.”
To this end, Cannes is “one of the most important gatherings of the year by far,” says Millard. “The conversations and people at Cannes are designed to help give people some direction.”