What Cannes Teaches Us About Global Marketing


Monday May 13, 2019 - Posted by:

What do you get when you combine exclusivity, celebrity, and cinema? The Cannes Film Festival is one of, if not the biggest celebration of cinema in the world. It attracts over 45,000 participants year on year, and the city comes alive with everyone from Hollywood royalty, B-listers, press and influencers, to humble film enthusiasts. The city’s population jumps from 73,000 to over 180,000 during the festival, with footfall and tourism booming, and the atmosphere aglow with the glamorous sheen of celebrity opulence.

But how does the festival make its money, and more importantly, how can brands benefit?

A Marketing Hubspot

The total budget of the festival is about €20 million, with half coming from official partners and the rest from public funding. This year’s partners include Chopard, HP, Kering, L’Oreal, Renault and Mastercard, amongst others, with Chopard having been responsible for designing the much-coveted Palme d’Or since 1998. 

Sponsoring big events like film festivals means major brand visibility, with Cannes touting all of its official partners on the festival website, as well as providing many opportunities for brands to promote their products and services through traditional and digital marketing methods throughout the festival. With the presence of over 300 TV stations, guaranteed social media buzz from celebrities to cinema-goers, magazine and news coverage – that’s a lot of brand visibility. The festival is now also covered as much by fashion bloggers as it is film critics, meaning eyes from a variety of different industries, disciplines and passion points looking the same way. Whilst advertising spaces are highly competitive during this time, they provide immeasurable brand enhancement and guaranteed global coverage.

Hotels in Cannes have been known to earn roughly 15% of their annual revenue during the festival. For most, rooms are prebooked far in advance or blocked out altogether for prestigious or highly-anticipated guests. For the most illustrious hotels, brands pay to sponsor everything from roundtables to gifting suites. Brands can pay up to $40,000 to be gifting suite sponsors, their names displayed across the walls, and celebrity endorsements with branded gifts appearing side-by-side with the biggest names in Hollywood.

According to Gavin Keilly, CEO & founder of GBK Productions, the luxury lifestyle gifting and special events company that has been running the Cannes luxury gift lounge, “For clients that want to expand their international base, the Cannes film festival is probably one of the best venues to attend. Thousands of press outlets are here from all around the world.”

Keilly emphasised to CNBC that there’s huge ROI to be found at events like this, using their client Revitalash as an example, who after spending $50,000 with GBK on gifting suites at the American Music Awards and the George Lopez Celebrity Classic Golf Tournament, “received the equivalent of $2.3 million in advertising”.

Get Noticed

Gifting Suites aren’t the only way to get noticed. Don’t underestimate the power of traditional advertising. It’s visible in many forms all around Cannes and most major festivals and events, and never fails to capture attention. Here are just a few examples of different formats:

  • Print advertising (Flyers, Leaflets, Magazine, Posters etc.)
  • Large Format & Interactive displays
  • Outdoor advertising displays
  • Hotel advertising 
  • Balcony banners
  • Digital Screen advertising 

When preparing marketing campaigns for events like Cannes, ensure your content is localised, and strong enough thematically to stand out in a sea of advertising. This extends to the digital space, where a strong social presence is key to alerting attendees of ongoing sponsored events, and ties in with the consistency of your brand’s presence. To take the Sundance Film Festival as an example, over 31,000 print and online articles were generated as coverage in 2013 alone, while the festival’s official website received over 3.2 million page views and over 688,000 visitors in ten days. Across the board, the festival’s official social channels all saw a boost in followers, likes and engagement.

Search volumes for brands are likely to go up when they’re mentioned in the media, something that happens a lot during events like Cannes. Whether it’s a star debuting a custom-made gown, or a premium brand sponsoring a beach screening — brands need to consider their search presence and be ready to showcase the products they want to promote. According to Eventbrite, the relevance of your keywords should be priority number one. Ensure your digital content is SEO optimised, and track competition and trending keywords through tools like Google’s Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Keyword Tool.

Advertising at Cannes or any major global event can do wonders for your brand presence. As with most marketing endeavours, it’s often largely a case of knowing your audience, and which events best suit your brand. Done correctly, a successful marketing campaign can boost your brand awareness on an international scale, and reward your efforts with huge ROI.

Discover how Locaria can help you create compelling global marketing campaigns, and localise your content for different markets and events worldwide by browsing our services, or giving us a call on +44 (0)20 3948 6800.

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