With a host of brands seeking to unlock growth through creativity, two new awards and a new initiative called Connect, Learn, Experience (CLX), the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity “will be a little bit busier and a little bit bigger than last year,” says Chairman Philip Thomas.

Although Cannes Lions started in 1954, it wasn’t until the last decade or so that brand marketers began to attend, represented by the likes of Procter & Gamble. “They’re coming in a slightly different way,” Thomas notes in this interview with Beet.TV. “I think historically they were brought by their agencies but now they’re kind of coming on their own volition.”

Last year’s event saw the launch of the CMO Growth Council, a partnership with the CMO Masters Circle of the Association of National Advertisers featuring 25 CMO’s from some of the world’s biggest global brands. “Cannes Lions really is about how creativity will drive your business and that means growth. One place they believe they can unlock growth is through the use of creativity,” says Thomas.

The CMO Growth Council has since met in such locales as Dubai, Los Angeles, New York and London. “They’re coming together again at Cannes this year to continue to develop the conversations, publish white papers talk about the specific issues that marketers have.”

In adding two awards this year—the Entertainment Lions for Sport and the Creative Strategy Lions—the folks at Cannes had some doubts about the latter. “We didn’t know how the industry was going to respond,” Thomas says. Given initial estimate of perhaps 250 entries, “at the last count we’ve more than three times that many.”

CLX is designed around immersive and interactive experiences with some of the world’s best-known media and entertainment creators, including Activision Blizzard, Adobe, NBCUniversal and Tik Tok from China. “I think if we look across the festival over the last few years, that’s the most interesting thing is the number of different organizations that want to get engaged, who think they can provide solutions for clients and brands.

“It used to just be an advertising festival and it’s just not that anymore,” Thomas adds.

He mentions in passing last year’s Cannes Lions and the absence of Publicis Groupe, plus some shrinkage in the adtech space over the last few years. But events continue to be in demand because of a “human need, which is to be face-to-face and to be with other people,” Thomas says.

This video is part of the Beet.TV preview series titled “The Road to Cannes.” The series is sponsored by 4INFO. Please visit this page for additional segments.