Last week was the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. The annual event brings together senior leaders from brands, agencies, publishers, and platforms alike to celebrate the most remarkable achievements in advertising… and sip a little rosé on the coast of Southern France.

While the activity in Cannes runs the gamut from executive perspectives to celebrity keynotes, everything centers around the awards given out in 18 different categories. For a brand, winning a Cannes Lion is validation of cutting-edge marketing and innovative strategy. It’s also a good measure of social currency.

Using 4C’s proprietary data science, we’re able to discover the connections between brands, consumers, and media. By tracking 1.5 billion individuals on social media, 250,000 interest categories, 50,000 brands, and 6,000 TV programs, we map brand affinities and quantify engagement using real behavior.

In the case of Cannes, we saw that brands who earned Grand Prix awards drove much higher penetration per thousand (PPM)* than those who won Gold awards or made the shortlist. In other words, brands that claimed the biggest awards had more people interacting with them from people who interacted with Cannes Lions topics on social media. So, while it’s certainly nice just to be nominated (as those who don’t win tend to say), there’s clearly a benefit to coming out on top.

As for which brands saw the biggest pop from Cannes, we can see that, among the Grand Prix winners, Always generated the highest PPM followed by Google, Nike, Geico, and Dominos. Geico, however, showed the biggest lift in PPM compared to the period before the event, growing by more than 20x, an indication that the brand was a surprise victor.

A lot of the conversation in Cannes revolved around the ways data science is changing the advertising landscape. This sentiment was reflected at the festival by the inaugural award for Creative Data. For some, data-driven marketing is seen as a threat to the artistry of our industry. After all, no Grand Prix was awarded for this category. For others, data are driving core insights that inspire creativity and drive (measurable) results. One thing we can all agree on is that, as we look into the future of advertising, there’s only going to be more data to contend with so it behooves us all to understand how to best capture and apply it to our businesses in inspiring ways.


*PPM is Penetration Per Thousand. It measures the strength of connection across two things and can be thought of as a concentration. The higher the number, the higher the concentration of people in a population who engage with a particular brand or topic. For this report, we looked at the connection between brands and the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (June 21-27, 2015) based on social media engagement.

**PPM Lift shows the increase in PPM during the week of the Cannes Lions festival compared to the three day period prior to the event.