Culture, Creators, & Conversations: SXM Media at Cannes 2023

Jun 26, 2023

SXM Media at Cannes

Some of the best minds in the industry once again took over Southern France to exchange ideas, chat ChatGPT, and run around the Palais in the most colorful of outfits. Although we’re sad to say adieu to, by far, the most scenic advertising festival, we’re eager to dig into all the amazing content we shared this year. From the role of AI in audio advertising, to lifting up badass women, to the importance of culture, here’s everything you need to know about SXM Media x Cannes 2023.

AI Across the Advert-verse

The topic of AI is everywhere. The proliferation of artificial intelligence in just about every industry is overwhelming, and it has left many brands wondering: How do you make the most of modern-day tech without losing the ever-needed human element that makes advertising really connect with consumers?

With that very question in mind, our very own Sonic Strategy Director, Steve Keller, built a AI vs. human “rumble” of sorts; a competition that will help guide advertisers in their use of AI in campaign usage. Three distinct teams were put to the test: 1. AI only, 2. Human only, 3. A hybrid of both. All created a full campaign including two 30-second spots against the same brief. 

The results? We can’t release them just yet, but we can say that they only validate everything we heard around Cannes: AI makes human work a little easier.

The Takeaway: AI is a tool in our toolbox. Remember, AI is not new, by any means. We’ve been using AI for years across the industry. Because of recent iterations, such as ChatGPT, it’s back in the forefront of conversation. But just like everything else, it’s not a replacement. We can use it to elevate what we do, and works best with direct input/outputs (“Write me a bio based on this”, “Write me 20 ad copy variations of this headline”). Just like the rest of us, if left to it’s own devices, things can get a bit crazy. (For one, it hallucinates). 

Celebrities at Cannes

Female Creators in the Spotlight 

Even despite our brag-worthy, badass lineup of women creators we brought to Cannes, we couldn’t help but notice this was a trend across the board. With organizations like the Female Quotient, SeeHer, and She Runs It leading the way, the power of women is more prominent than ever. 

Looking specifically at podcasts: creators such as Jameela Jamil (I Weigh), Tinx (It’s Me, Tinx), and Ashley Flowers (Crime Junkie + audiochuck), represent the rise of the self-made female creator. Take Ashley Flowers for example: a new mom, passionate about true crime who decided to start sharing that curiosity with the world from her basement, now has built an entire media empire and pulls over 30M listens a month with her hit podcast Crime Junkie alone. 

The door is wide open for women everywhere to build their own empires and follow their passions. And on the flipside, female listeners are pouring into a once male-dominated platform to laugh, get advice, and spend time with communities of people who they relate with. 

On the ground at Cannes, we celebrated these women and helped them share their stories. Jameela took the mainstage to talk about the I Weigh movement, Tinx shared her journey from TikTok to SiriusXM studio, and Ashley about the power of women-to-women advertising. 

The Takeaway: If you’re not already, now’s the time to support the female community. The power of women is undeniable, and now they represent nearly half of all podcast listeners. And, according to our Female Listener Podcast Report with Edison Research, they’re more likely to consider a brand if they’ve advertised on a female-led podcast. 

Women have incredible buying power, and they appreciate when brands back them up. Podcasts are the perfect place to do this. (Humble brag: We’re the #1 podcast network with women). 

Panels and interviews at Cannes

Culture at the Forefront

This next generation is the most diverse generation there is—and this was evident by the amount of culture and DE&I conversations happening festival-wide. 

It’s no secret that today’s audience expects more. From our Culture Spectrum panel to our Pass the Mic brunch, we wanted our time spent in France to be highlighted by a distinctive push toward more intentional, learnings-based conversations and decisions around advertising to diverse audiences.

The main message? Audio is culture. Sound is at the root of communities and identities—and is a huge part of how people relate to each other, and to their culture. It’s the perfect way to resonate with an audience and immediately make an emotional connection with audio cues; anything from accents to regional music to language. 

Takeaway: This isn’t easy. But when done right, the payoff is big, because building this type of emotional connection increases brand loyalty exponentially. Here’s two quick ways to execute culturally relevant campaigns:

  • Integrate diversity into every aspect of your campaign team—from producers, to marketers, to voice over artists. 

  • Understand your audience, and consult the experts if you need (like our very own in-house practice, Fluency) to help deliver audience insights that can contribute to a message that resonates and drives impact

Til next year. 

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