AList chatted with Charlotte Wiliams, Cannes Lions’ vice president of content, about finding a happy medium when programming and who she’s excited to see at the festival. 

When programming, how do you find a balance between evergreen and new trends?

What we tend to find is that the topics tend to have slightly different nuances each year. This year, for example, we have quite a lot of submissions about ageism. Whereas last year, they tended to be more around gender. I think this year we see that issue evolve slightly. 

Some topics tend to change very slightly, like last year there was a lot around purpose, and this year we’ve seen that perhaps accelerate more into brand activism. [There is also] the emergence of new technologies like voice, AI and machine learning; all of these new technologies to enhance customer experience and add value to it. 

Similarly, how do you anticipate up-and-coming marketers like Glossier and balance that with industry veterans?

We made it a bit of an ambition of ours this year to get more B2C marketers and to get more of the challenger brands. Because I think they’re creating quite a lot of fear in [legacy] mar- keters. The Glossier session at Cannes Lions, last year, was one of the best sessions we’ve had. We got incredible feedback because the founder had a unique approach to marketing and distribution.

Can you talk a little bit about the live stream and on-demand that come with the Digital Pass?

We launched the Digital Pass last year. But we only promoted it about a week before the festival. This year we made more of [push] of it.

We created the Digital Pass as a way for [more junior creatives or those who can’t make it to Cannes Lions] to see some of the highlights of the festival. In fact, we sold our first ticket to someone in Mongolia. Last year you could only watch it live, this year it’s live or on-demand. We’ll have 12 hours of programming a day.

What speakers and panels are you personally excited to see?

I’m excited to see Alfonso Cuarón. I know he’s quite a predictable name but I always love hearing filmmakers’ creative processes. It will be interesting to hear his view on creatives in the industry and how he sees long-form content and to hear why he wants to speak at an advertising conference like Cannes Lions.

Thomas Heatherwick is another speaker I think will be great. I’ve heard he’s a brilliant speaker, very provocative. All the creatives legends [will be there]: Nick Law [Publicis Groupe] and Colleen DeCourcy [Wieden + Kennedy] are speaking. The heavyweight creatives never disappoint, they always deliver. We tried to make the program a bit more provocative this year. You’ll see there are some provocative, controversial speakers like Alexander Nix from Cambridge Analytica.