This year’s Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity includes a second round of refreshed criteria for the Media Lions awards to better reflect how significant upheavals in the media marketplace affect the way media buyers operate. This year’s festival comes as advertisers and agencies are adjusting to the effects of economic uncertainty on consumer behavior.

“There is uncertainty, but there’s probably more certainty around that uncertainty maybe than we’ve had the last few years with Covid,” Sharb Farjami, chief executive for North America at Wavemaker, a unit of WPP’s GroupM, said in this interview with consultant Joanna O’Connell. “Perhaps the economic headwinds aren’t quite as bad as we think.”

A slowing economy can be a time for brands to boost market share and keep those gains during the recovery to maximize sales and profitability.

“There’s also an argument to be had for advertising in the face of economic headwinds,” Farjami said. “Because if there is uncertainty, consumers tend to gravitate towards brands that they trust, and a core tenet of trust is consistency. So, maintaining a presence during those times is critical.”

Wavemaker represents a wide variety of advertisers, each of which has specialized needs for media planning, execution of campaigns and optimization. A common theme among these advertisers is their strength after grappling with the massive upheavals of the global pandemic.

“Everyone and everything is more resilient after the last three years,” Farjami said, citing difficulties with supply chains that impeded the ability of many businesses to obtain materials to make products, and to get them into the hands of customers. “A lot of that has dissipated…so, if there are uncertainties, it’s more around economic sentiment, consumer sentiment and spending patterns.”

A key strategy for dealing with marketplace uncertainty is to look for ways to connect with consumers at all stages of the purchase funnel, especially since ecommerce has transformed media channels into sales channels.

“When you’re thinking about planning, traditionally, brand and performance have almost had a  ‘brand versus performance’ perspective,” Farjami said. “It’s ‘brand and performance’ now. The fact that there’s such a high opportunity for every brand in the world, really at the moment around their DTC [direct-to-consumer] and commerce journey, that you have to connect all ends of the funnel.”

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