As more B2B marketers than ever gathered recently for the Cannes Creative B2B Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, it’s natural to wonder — just what are the key insights that emerged, and how can B2B marketers best put them to use?
Although the event celebrated its 70th anniversary in 2023, it was only the second year where B2B marketers had their own special section of the festivities in the form of the Creative B2B Lions, including an array of B2B-specific marketing award categories.
Let’s jump right in and examine some of the key themes and trends from this year’s second-annual Cannes Creative B2B Lions.
AI Top of Mind & Poised To Touch Every Aspect of Marketing
Generative AI continued its run as 2023’s centerpiece topic at Cannes just as it has in nearly all segments of society, as marketers in B2C and B2B have continued grappling with how to best use the technology while maintaining — and growing — brand authenticity and trust.
Because of the AI innovations 2023 has seen, Guilin-Merle called this an exciting time for marketers. “Marketing is about connecting brands and products to people,” she noted. “The ‘what’ remains the same. The ‘how’ is changing again. Marketers, we can finally get back to marketing,” she observed, while offering up a list of some of the AI tools that Google’s own marketing teams are working with, including:
- Bard experimental conversational AI service
- Imagen and Phenaki text-to-image and text-to-video tools
- PaLM API for generating social media copy
- Gmail and Google Docs “Help me write” feature
“AI has the potential to revolutionize every single part of marketing. The ‘what’ remains the same. The ‘how’ is changing again. Marketers, we can finally get back to marketing.” — Marie Gulin-Merle @MarieGulin
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Our own CEO Lee Odden recently delivered a keynote about AI’s impact on B2B marketing, presenting “Human vs Machine: The Future of B2B Content Marketing” during the BtoB Summit Paris 2023 conference.
Lee began his presentation explaining how generative AI essentially “makes you more of what you already are,” with poor content simply being turned into even more sub-par content if that’s what a marketer brings to the AI table, while those who instead present creativity and imagination to AI tools will be rewarded with even more quality B2B marketing content that is creative and imaginative.
As the team at Think With Google recently looked at as its weekly “big topic,” it’s more a matter of AI plus creativity, and not AI versus creativity.
As a hot topic at Cannes, AI and how it can best be used by B2B marketers is an issue we’ve spent considerable time effort to explore here on the TopRank Marketing blog, including the following pieces:
- A Home-Run for Humanizing B2B Content: Why Generative AI Can Only Get Your Business to First Base
- Top 5 Insights B2B Marketers Need To Know About Google’s AI Search Future
- Humanize, Organize, Strategize & Personalize: 4 Ways To Boost B2B Influencer Marketing With Generative AI
- 5 Key Ways Generative AI is Changing the Future of SEO from Google’s Bard to Microsoft’s Prometheus-Based Bing
- Standing Out From AI: Why Humanizing B2B Marketing Is Key In 2023
- The Prompt Whisperer: ChatGPT’s Rising Reach In B2B Marketing & The AI Revolution
Creativity Drives Profitability And Pushes Boring B2B Aside
Creativity is playing an even more important role in B2B marketing in the age of generative AI, simultaneously helping to increase brand awareness and drive profitability — all qualities that surfaced time and again during Cannes.
The Creative B2B Lions event and awards were established in 2022 in conjunction with the B2B community — most notably The B2B Institute — the industry think tank by LinkedIn* that researches the future of B2B marketing and decision making.
Tyrona Heath, director of market engagement at The B2B Institute at LinkedIn, shared some of the many ways that creativity adds value to today’s B2B marketing efforts, in “B2B advertising doesn’t need to be boring: why creativity is a key driver of profitability.”
“Creativity plays a significant role in building and expanding your brand size,” Heath explained.
“It leads to increased brand recognition, differentiation, customer loyalty, and ultimately having a larger market presence. And investing in creativity has a positive impact on financial performance because it serves as a multiplier,” Heath added.
As Cannes wrapped up, Heath further reflected on the increasing power of creativity.
“In this second year of the Creative B2B Lions, I am inspired by the caliber of work we encountered. Imagining what the future holds, I can’t wait to see how B2B creativity will continue to evolve 5, 10, and 15 years from now,” Heath — who served as a juror during the event — noted.
“In this second year of the Creative B2B Lions, I am inspired by the caliber of work we encountered. Imagining what the future holds, I can’t wait to see how B2B creativity will continue to evolve 5, 10, and 15 years from now.” — @Tyrona
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During Cannes Lions the LinkedIn Collective broadcast live from the event, with a variety of LinkedIn Live sessions exploring the trends and challenges surrounding AI in B2B marketing, now available on-demand in, “AI-Powered B2B Marketing: Trends & Dangers,” and a lively conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within the B2B marketing landscape, in “Prioritizing DEI in B2B Organizations.”
B2B marketing is undergoing significant shifts, if not an outright renaissance, as Tom Stein, chairman and chief growth officer at Stein IAS and Creative B2B Lions jury president, noted that, “This is B2B’s decade. It started on stage in Cannes last night.”
“This is B2B’s decade. It started on stage in Cannes last night.” — Tom Stein @Tom_Stein
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As another of the key trends at Cannes this year, the rising power of creativity in 2023 has been the subject of several articles we’ve recently published, including:
- Elevate B2B Marketing Podcast: Creativity & Inclusivity in B2B Marketing with Ty Heath
- What B2B Marketers Need to Know from LinkedIn’s New Benchmark Report
- 4 B2B Marketing Lessons from Disney’s The Little Mermaid
- Equilibrium: 10 Tips to Balance Creativity and Process in B2B Content Marketing
- Solvable Strategy: 4 B2B Marketing Take-Aways from Board Games
Use AI & Creativity To Elevate B2B Marketing
Generative AI and creativity may initially appear as two altogether different endeavors, however as our take-aways from Cannes have shown, both offer compelling justifications for B2B marketers to use, especially when each is factored into the other’s strategy.
The future of B2B marketing is poised to feature a uniquely human touch optimized with AI for creative storytelling.
“The future of B2B marketing is poised to feature a uniquely human touch optimized with AI for creative storytelling.” — Lane R. Ellis @lanerellis
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We hope that the Cannes insight we’ve shared here will help you in your own efforts to elevate B2B marketing throughout 2023 and beyond.
To learn more about B2B marketing imagined by humans and optimized by machines, be sure to catch our CEO Lee Odden presenting during B2B Ignite London on Thursday, June 29, 2023 at 2:00 p.m., with a presentation entitled, “The New Kingdom of Content in 2023 and How to Wear the Crown.” Get the full details — including Lee’s list of eight must-see sessions during the event — in “The New Kingdom of Content for B2B Marketing – TopRank at B2B Ignite London.”
More than ever before, creating award-winning B2B marketing that elevates, gives voice to talent, and humanizes with authenticity takes considerable time and effort, which is why more brands are choosing to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Reach out to learn how we can help, as we’ve done for over 20 years for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and many others.
* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.
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