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Cannes Lions Doubles Down on Music Business for Its 73rd Year

Music marketing has been at the core of many of the last half-decade's most decorated campaigns at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the biggest meet-up and awards confab of the…

Music marketing has been at the core of many of the last half-decade’s most decorated campaigns during the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the biggest meet-up and awards confab of the advertising industry.

Whether it’s been Jay Z and Bing’s global scavenger hunt to promote the rapper’s biography Decoded (Droga5 took home the Integrated Grand Prix and Titanium Lion for the project in 2011), Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow,” built around a haunting Fiona Apple cover of “Pure Imagination” (CAA Marketing won the PR Grand Prix in 2013), or Australian PSA “Dumb Way To Die,” an irreverent, animated jingle about the perils of shrugging common sense (McCann Australia’s campaign took home a record 28 Lions in 2013), music helps brands big and small cut through the Cannes chaos.

That’s why the 63rd Cannes Lions, which kicked off over the weekend (June 18), has expanded the number of awards dedicated to music and branded entertainment by creating the first annual Lions Entertainment, which begins June 23. The two-day programming track will culminate in the Lions Entertainment Awards, which will feature 30 awards categories dedicated to excellence in music across six verticals: Music & Brands; Fans, Social & Digital; Music Craft & Composition; Music Platforms & Technology; Music Content and Live Experience.

Lions Entertainment: Timbaland, Steve Angello Join New Event at Cannes Lions

The Lions’ rise in priority in music circles appears to have come, at least in part, at the expense Midem, Cannes’ other longtime music confab which just wrapped its 50th year earlier this month (June 6) — with a reported 20 percent decline in attendance year-over-year (from 5,500 to 4,400 attendees). Lions officials expect more than 15,000 delegates this year from nearly 100 countries, totaling over 40,000 awards submissions.

Lions’ tradition of megastar names —  including Lou Reed, who made one of his last public appearances in 2013, a 2014 tirade from Kanye West against Samsung and a surprisingly vulnerable Marilyn Manson in 2015, who admitted: “I’m worried that my music will overshadow my image.” — will continue throughout the week. Scheduled speaking appearances include actor-rapper Will Smith, in conversation with Edelman’s Jackie Cooper (June 21), Usher in a Q&A with iHeartMedia’s Ryan Seacrest and Bob Pittman (June 21), Iggy Pop headlining Grey’s Legends of Music Seminar (June 22), Mark Ronson hosted by Spotify (June 24) and Justin Bieber‘s go-to Purpose collaborator Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd in a talk with Jingle Punks’ Jared Gustadt (June 24).

Several executive heavy-hitters of the music biz will make appearances throughout the week as well, including Billboard Power 100 alums Troy Carter (Havas’ “Can Your Brand Keep Up With The Speed Of Culture,” June 21), Daniel Ek (Spotify’s keynote on June 22) and Jennifer Breithaupt (“Wake Up With The Economist’s” beach-side CMO panel on June 24). Citi is Lions Entertainment’s headline sponsor, while Spotify is presenting sponsor of the Music Lions.

No Cannes Lions would be worth its weight in rose without a few ultra-exclusive parties. They include iHeartMedia and MediaLink’s annual invite-only gathering at the Hotel-du-cap Eden Rock on June 21, which will host an intimate solo performance from Coldplay‘s Chris Martin; the 100 person-capacity Spotify House, scheduled to host multiple music legends throughout the week;  Live Nation and Citi’s first Villa Party on June 22, which according to its invite will feature a “15-time Grammy winner,” and Viacom’s controversial party on June 23, still set to take place at press time with headliner Gwen Stefani — despite last week’s blow-out of CEO Phillippe Dauman by chairman Sumner Redstone.

Andrew Hampp is a vice president at music experiential and sponsorship agency MAC Presents.