Cannes Lions 2021: On demand


What 2 billion viewers can tell us about the future of video.

Kevin Allocca, Head of YouTube Culture & Trends

In the past 12 months, YouTube has noted the growing ‘indispensability’ of video in people’s lives, with 1 billion hours of content viewed on the platform every single day.

Gavin McGrow, Global Strategy Director, attended this session on how the past year has transformed video from a form of casual entertainment to serving deep consumer needs such as:

  • The management of physical and emotional wellbeing
  • Learning new skills
  • Community belonging

These needs have become more prominent largely due to the global coronavirus pandemic, but YouTube has also defined three distinct and complementary video trends.

  • Immediacy – the growth of livestreaming and simultaneous viewing to create a sense of communal experience and companionship.

More than 2m people simultaneously watched NASA’s Perseverance rover land on Mars, and over half a million channels livestreamed for the first time in 2020.

There is an important distinction between livestreaming and traditional live broadcasts on TV or radio – namely, the overt presence of other viewers reacting, commenting and chatting during live streams.

  • Relatability – reflecting the breakdown of the barrier between public and private, with the belief that as we’ve invited the world into our home offices/kitchens/bedrooms, we feel less pressured to portray unrealistic images of our lives.

Allocca refers to this as ‘extreme authenticity’ or ‘radical relatability’, which has led to an expectation of creators to present more realistic and relatable versions of themselves.

For example, content creator Milad Mirg tells stories of his life while working at a sandwich shop, with content shot in a POV format. He has nearly 2 million subscribers.

  • Immersiveness – innovating and experimenting with established entertainment forms to provide a deeper level of engagement and value.

Dream SMP is an improvised ongoing political drama, told on via Minecraft, which sounds incredibly niche, but videos with ‘Dream SMP’ in the title have accumulated over 2 billion views since May 2020.

Allocca highlighted two key requirements for developing effective and valued content:

  • Recognise the role(s) that video can play in the lives of our audience. With the expectations that many of the aforementioned needs will continue even as we return to a relative state of post-COVID normality.
  • Understand and monitor the evolving ‘language’ of video content to trial and experiment with emerging technologies and format/tone/style innovations.

Allorca said: “Being more immediate, less formal and more immersive are all shortcuts to help people feel more connected to each other either directly or more subtly. By finding ways to make us feel connected rather than isolated, there is an opportunity for creativity and entertainment to bring a deeper level of value in our lives.”

APX Content Ventures Presents IMPACT


Eric Levin, EVP, Chief Content Officer, Global Head of Content, Spark Foundry, Vanessa Roth, Director, Ryan Pallotta, Director, Gal Gadot, Founder, Pilot Wave Productions & Executive Producers.

This session took us behind the scenes of what it takes to find the stories that authentically represent women and don’t perpetuate stereotypes, reports Simona Zykaite, Senior Research Executive.

“We got to bring something that will serve as a beacon of hope, a beacon of light, in this darkness. In this era of cynicism and negativity, said Gal Gadot. So, what can we learn as marketers?

Social media has enormous power

This project started with Ryan Pallotta seeing a picture on social media of ballerinas dancing in favelas in Brazil. Through social media, he was able to connect with the photographer. The production team was later able to find similar stories on social media and connect with and find the right people for the production.

The story must come from an honest place

One thing that shines through all the way, it’s that people behind the lens are as inspiring as the story subjects. They are brave and resilient, and despite the logistic and financial obstacles, they continue working on the project because they want to help and inspire.

“You’ve got to have a certain inner compass that directs you within those stories. It can’t be just about the money,” Yaron Varsano, Co-founder of Pilot Wave.

A clear concept and messaging are vital

The team was very clear from the beginning on where to look for stories (social media), format (shorts), and what kind of stories they want to tell (those that not only represent someone but also empower the viewer to do something).

Big brands have a reach to make an impact

One thing for sure, without Gadot’s involvement, the story of this project would be different, and it’s unlikely it would have reached that many people.

Big brands have the potential but also the responsibility to lead and inspire people. As Eric Levin, Executive Producer, Impact, said: “As advertising professionals and influential brands, it’s our responsibility to shatter stereotypes, spotlight mission-driven stories and uplift diverse voices.”

Spotify Presents The Sound of Culture: Music and Podcast for the Streaming Generation

By Danni Beechey, Associate Director, Global Tech Partnerships, Blink Consulting.


Lydia Polgreen, Managing Director at Gimlet, Brandy, singer, songwriter and actress, Danyel Smith, journalist and host of the “Black Girl Songbook”, Spotify Original podcast

Digital audio is one of the most significant forces changing the way we consume content and media. If you weren’t already listening to podcasts before the pandemic, chances are you now have one or two favourites to entertain you while you cook, run or chill out.

In this talk presented by Spotify, Lydia Polgreen, Brandy and Danyel Smith discussed the world of streaming and podcasts, and the unique ways they enable artists, creators, and brands to connect with fans and audiences.

Podcasts allow for content to be created that might otherwise be overlooked by mainstream channels. Smith explained that her podcast centres Black women in music and allows her to really connect with her audiences “like they’re [her] friends”.

Streaming and podcasts also democratises content, removing the traditional “gate keepers” and allowing people to access the things they really want to listen to without limitations.

Digital audio also opens up opportunities to tell compelling stories. In 2020, UM Studios and the US Postal Service worked with Spotify to create an audio campaign sharing real stories from their postal workers. It drove positive sentiment and empathy, a capability only possible with an intimate medium such as digital audio.

The growth of streaming and podcasts is only likely to increase – 2020 was the year where more than half of cars on the roads now have AUX or Bluetooth connections, enabling even more digital listening.

The Bloc presents Making Space: A Visual Poetry Journey


Ingrid Silva, Founder, EmpowHer, Kim Barke, scientist, PHD, MFA

Ballerina Ingrid Silva understands the importance of representation, reports Margo Howie, SEO Account Director,

Her life was changed when she met other black dancers and was encouraged to apply for one of the leading black dance companies, Dance Theatre Harlem, where she first saw “people like me”.

Silva grew up in Brazil, where dancing was a hobby, not a career. Ballet is notorious for its classism, making it difficult for dancers to break into the field and even more so for non-white dancers.

Until recently, dancers couldn’t even buy pointe shoes in colours representing the true range of skin shades. Dancers of colour had to hand-tint their shoes, which is what Silva used to do. Now, her pointe shoes are in The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Silva broke boundaries as a black ballet dancer with a natural hairstyle, and from that struggle, went on to found EmpowHer New York. The organisation works to educate, inspire, and make more opportunities accessible for underrepresented women.

Partnering with creative agency The Bloc, Silva has led projects such as the short film Skindeep, which explores microaggressions and how racial trauma stretches across generations. Another project, The Call, explores how the myth about black women’s exceptional resilience leads to them receiving less adequate health care and treatment.

Taking on such ambitious subjects demonstrates Silva’s determination to make the world easier for the next generation – not just for dancers, but for everyone.

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