ORLANDO — If you thought the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was down-sizing, think again.

In a new addition to the advertising festival’s agenda, CLX (“Connect. Learn. Explore”), a new mini-event within the overall programme, will add a series of curated discussion sessions.

CLX is a partnership with media consulting firm, MediaLink, which has been a stablemate of Cannes Lions since its acquisition by Ascential in 2017.

Cannes Lions executive director Louise Benson explains the rationale in this video interview with Beet.TV.

“We’re going to be bringing together around 500 of the senior marketers, agency executive, brands, entertainment companies, media companies and technology companies to get together in curated discussion sessions, talking about the future of creativity,” Benson says.

“We’re going to be working with up to eight sponsor partners, who will be coming from the worlds of media, entertainment, and sport. And they’ll be bringing some of the world’s finest content creators to spearhead discussions on how to build experiences, and create the content that consumers really want to spend time with.”

The reasoning is even more interesting. Benson says Cannes Lions “feels that the era of buying eyeballs is coming to an end” and that brands “need to think like entertainment companies in order to really drive the engagement that they’re looking for”.

On two days, CLX will be invite-only, for VIPs only. But from Tuesday to Friday, CLX will be open to all Lions delegates.

Cannes Lions takes place in June 2019. The 2018 trimmed some elements from the programming and made tickets more cost-effective, after feedback from delegates.

This interview was produced at the ANA Masters in Marketing ’18 conference in Orlando.