Cannes Lions Has Company: Concurrent VidCon, NFT.NYC Events Compete for Marketers’ Attention

Marketers on Monday returned in person to the French Riviera for the weeklong Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity after a two-year break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic. But two other meetings of rising importance that coincide on the calendar this year with the advertising industry’s highest-profile annual conference have divided the attention of some.

NFT.NYC opened Monday, the same day that Cannes Lions kicked off, for its fourth year of talk about nonfungible tokens. Alongside attendees, whom organizers refer to as the NFT community, the agenda for the four days lists speakers with roles at marketers including fashion brand Coach, jeans maker Wrangler and sports-betting company DraftKings Inc.

And VidCon, an annual convention in Anaheim, Calif., centered around digital creators, is meeting in person Wednesday through Saturday, with executives from brands including food and beverage company Nestlé SA,

dating app Tinder, fast-food chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.,

crypto exchange Crypto.com and media company Hello Sunshine scheduled to take the stage there.

The confluence showcases the shifting trends in marketing, including a rising focus on video creators, social-media influencers, and NFTs and other elements of Web3 technology, a budding iteration of the internet that is built using decentralized blockchains.

Some marketers—and the advertising platforms that court them—will be at all three events, while others are picking their priorities.

Social-media company Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc.

is attending Cannes Lions, VidCon and NFT.NYC to promote its products to the marketers at each event, said Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president of Meta’s global business group.

“People are wanting to understand where consumers are going, where the technology is going, where the best places to be able to reach them, and, accordingly, how they will be able to grow,” Ms. Mendelsohn said of the three events.

Whalar Ltd., a marketing agency that specializes in working with creators, decided to send 15 executives to Cannes, 13 to VidCon and three to NFT.NYC.

VidCon and NFT.NYC represent where the marketing industry is headed, said Jamie Gutfreund, global chief marketing officer for Whalar.

“It is a bit of an interesting moment in time, where the traditional creative approach has not really welcomed the creator economy, whereas the other two events are obviously all about the creator economy,” Ms. Gutfreund said.

The NFT.NYC conference kicked off in New York on Monday.


Photo:

John Marshall Mantel/Zuma Press

Malik Ducard, chief content officer at social-media platform Pinterest Inc.,

This week is making his way to both Cannes and VidCon.

“Many of us, like myself, are happy to have the opportunity to join both as we focus on key constituents, brands and creators,” Mr. Ducard said.

Media.Monks, a marketing-services agency owned by S4Capital, is sending employees and executives to Cannes as it has in the past, but the company has also more team members to NFT.NYC than it has before.

Employees are asking to go to NFT.NYC because they are interested in the evolution of NFTs and the community around them, said Henry Cowling, chief innovation officer at Media.Monks.

Meanwhile, Tripadvisor Inc.

is coming back to Cannes this year, the travel company said, but isn’t planning to be at VidCon or NFT.NYC.

“Cannes is important and unique in that it brings together global perspectives from all different industries and experiences—something that is core to Tripadvisor, as a brand, as well,” said Christine Maguire, the company’s general manager and vice president for global media business. .

Cannes Lions remains the pre-eminent ad-industry event, gathering attendees from all over the world for talks, networking, meetings, highly coveted awards, celebrity appearances and concerts over the course of five days.

It is tracking to reach about 12,000 attendees this year, in line with 2019’s numbers, an event spokeswoman said earlier this month.

NFT.NYC has grown to an expected 12,000 attendees this year, from 262 for its inaugural event in 2019, said co-founder Jodee Rich. This year’s event is spread across 10 stages, up from four last year.

VidCon declined to reveal how many attendees have registered this year, but said more than 150 speakers are scheduled, with about 100 sponsors and exhibitors set to be on hand as well.

Ally Financial Inc.

Is sending employees to VidCon because the conference brings fans together with creators and platforms, making it easier to understand the consumer response, said Andrea Bremmer, chief marketing and public relations officer of the digital financial-services company. Ally Financial isn’t going to Cannes Lions or NFT.NYC.

Many of the conferences have grown so big that it becomes difficult to understand broader trends and what’s important to customers, Ms. Brimmer said.

Ms. Brimmer herself isn’t attending VidCon, preferring to study executive summaries from her team, she said. “I’ve personally found it more productive to just kind of stay back and do the work,” she said.

Corrections & Amplifications
Nicola Mendelsohn is vice president of Meta Platforms’ global business group. An earlier version of this article missed her last name as Mendelsohon in one reference. Also, Christine Maguire is general manager and vice president for global media business at Tripadvisor. An earlier version of this article missed her first name as Christina. (Corrected on June 22.)

Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at ann-marie.alcantara@wsj.com

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