PMI at Cannes Lions 2019: How to make the world a better place

17 Jun 2019 · 3 min read
From the "Open Mic" pavilion on the French Riviera, panelists from the ad industry reflect on what it takes to cut through the haze.
PMI Cannes Lions Open Mic Rain Dove

As Cannes is now awash with delegates for the “most creative week of the year”, PMI’s pavilion hosts the first of many round-tables with marketing and media experts to map the future of the creative industry. Returning to the south of France for the second year, the "Open Mic" pavilion, on the world-famous Promenades de la Croisette, hosts a series of panels, one-on-one conversations and events that focus on encouraging productive discourse and change.

The main theme of Tuesday’s session is “Cutting Through the Haze”, an opportunity for marketing and media executives to have bold discussions about how to create global conversations to make the world a better place.

Cutting Through the Haze



“We have an enormous responsibility towards the public, towards consumers, towards the world,” says Monique Nelson, CEO of UniWorld Group (pictured below), the longest-standing multicultural ad agency in the United States during a round-table on “How Brands are Promoting Social Values through Exciting Campaigns”.

“It’s not a matter of telling consumers what they want, as it was in the past. It’s understanding what consumers want out of the brand,” says Nelson. “Whether it’s a small or an ambitious project, we have to humanize our products.” Joanna Peña-Bickley, Head of Design, Internet of Things at Amazon, argues that the appeal of a brand has to pass the test not only of a single consumer, but of a community.

“The sense of community in what we do is paramount,” Peña-Bickley says. In front of a live audience, she highlighted the importance of investing both in “empowering communities” and in making “intelligent things that are useful, usable and magical”.

“We live in connected communities and have a responsibility towards them,” explains Peña-Bickley. “Our products must solve problems. And we should have the courage to reinvent the future—and just do it,” she continues. “Taking action is how we achieve true transformation that benefits every area of society.”

Developing a sense of responsibility towards communities is also a central concern for Tanya LeSieur, Associate Partner of the ad agency M/H VCCP.

“Donating money to a charitable cause is not enough,” LeSieur explains. “Our brands must be genuine, and we should take action to show that we are committed to changing lives for the better.”

But how do you make a brand relatable? Or human? Or – the million-dollar question – how do you change the world for the better?

The advertising consultant and founder of social platform MakeLoveNotPorn, Cindy Gallop (pictured above), has the perfect recipe for being truthful in this age of fake news.

“If I tell you that I’m funny, you’ll rightly say ‘I’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much’. I have to show you I’m funny. Conversely, I shouldn’t be going around and explaining how good my brand is. I have to show you, I have to live it,” says Gallop during her “The Future is Not ‘Reality’, but Real” session.

Over the course of her career in the ad industry, Gallop says she’s encountered too many “people of who fill their mouths with the word ‘diversity’ without understanding the meaning of it”.

In this age, “we should create products with people, not for them,” she says. “And in order to predict this future, we have to invent it ourselves,” explains Gallop.

As the first day of Cannes Lions comes to an end, PMI’s Senior Vice President of Global Communications*, Marian Salzman, concluded: “We want to encourage bold conversations. The message from these speakers is: if we listen in, engage and act we can achieve much more social good in the world than by simply acting alone.”


* On January 1, 2024, Marian Salzman was appointed Senior Vice President & Chief Corporate Citizenship Officer.

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