June 19, 2023
4 mins

Live from Cannes: Monday, June 19th

A giant Cheeto sculpture, cat people quirks, generative AI, and more happening on the ground at Cannes

Vibe Check

“Gen AI is definitely the conversation,” Mansoor Basha, CTO of Stagwell Marketing Cloud told me about the topic of choice this Monday on the beaches of Cannes.

And among the conversations around the biggest technological advances shaking up the industry is a glaring lack of enthusiasm for last year’s buzziest new tech: web3 and the metaverse. 

Abe Geiger, CPO of Stagwell Marketing cloud highlighted a notable downward trend in interest for those once cutting-edge technologies. Generative AI is all anyone can talk about.

"Gen AI is definitely the conversation."

Outside of the focus on how new technologies are changing the future of marketing, the vibes are “hot and excited” according to Geiger. 

“People are still filtering in, reconnecting with colleagues and friends for the first time, and having a good sweat together in the bright Cannes sunshine,” he elaborated. “The fans are in full blast, the beach venues are luxurious and impressive, and the panels at Stagwell’s Sport Beach—and other stops along the beach—have been full of celebrities and thought leaders across the marketing landscape.”

Not bad for day one. 

But who is going to bring home the awards tonight in the first awards ceremony? Pharma Lions, Heath & Wellness Lions, Print & Publishing Lions, Outdoor Lions, and Radio & Audio Lions are up for deliberation. 

Among the shortlisted contestants are a tear-jerking Dove campaign that confronts toxic beauty standards head on, Burger King’s foray into the plant-based chicken market, and a series of irreverently preppy, cheerful Lacoste billboards. Let’s dive into a couple of favorites who may take home the gold tonight. 

Brand Spotlights 

A giant Cheeto sculpture and allergy-laden eyes staring adoringly at kittens


Shortlisted in the Outdoor category is an impossible-to-miss 17-foot-tall sculpture of a very large hand holding a Puffy Cheeto. The fingers are dusted in the brand’s signature electric orange. They’re covered in what’s formally called Cheetle—the bright orange powder that accumulates on one’s fingers while they’re eating Cheetos. The work is a collaboration between Citizen Relations and, well, Cheeto of course. 

Picture of the cheeto sculpture in Cheetham.
CNW Group / PepsiCo Foods Canada.

Nestled in a field in Cheadle (pronounced Cheetle), a small hamlet near Calgary, Canada, the sculpture looks more akin to something you’d see at Storm King, a sprawling 500-acre mecca for outdoor art. It is bold, large, and tongue-in-cheek. If the Storm King curators haven’t officially gotten in touch with Pepsi (Cheetos’ parent company) yet, I think they absolutely should. 

“Cheetos fans have always known that the delicious, cheesy dust on their fingertips is an unmistakably delicious part of the Cheetos experience,” Lisa Allie, Senior Marketing Director for PepsiCo Foods Canada, said in a statement upon unveiling the sculpture. “Now it officially has a name: Cheetle.” 

Canadians and Cheadle residents—plus anyone willing to travel for Cheetle—had a month to visit the sculpture last fall. Needless to say, the quirky activation garnered plenty of attention on social media and deserves a place among this year’s shortlist. 


AMV BBDO collaborated with cat food brand Sheba to bring their relatable campaign to life, and it made its way to Cannes’s shortlist for the Print and Publishing cat-egory…sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Playing off the statistic that 1 in 4 cat owners are allergic to their furry friends, they leaned into the love pet owners have for their animals in a series of photographs that featured people covered in hives cuddling a tiny, irresistible gray kitten with blue eyes. 

On creating the advertisements for Sheba’s Perfect Portions Wet Kitten Food, creative directors Polina Zabrodskaya and Andre Sallowicz told Muse, “We extensively researched what real cat allergies look like and made sure we portrayed the horrible (and hilarious) reality as accurately as we could. All the characters in our campaign are based on photos of real people with cat allergies.” 

If 1 in 4 cat owners are allergic to their cat, then at least 25% of Sheba’s target audience could get a good chuckle out of this one. Despite hives, swollen puffy eyes, and dripping snot, the advertisement’s cat owners are smiling with joy.  

Brand Battle

American Express v. Coinbase

Every day this week, we are going to pull two big brands hosting events at Cannes and compare them using data from Harris Brand Platform to see what emotional associations consumers have with them. Up first, we have American Express and Coinbase.

Graph showing surveyed opinions of AmEx vs. Coinbase.
Harris Brand Platform. 1/1/2023–6/12/2023. Base: Cryptocurrency owners and users 18+ familiar with American Express and Coinbase. American Express n=2,606, Coinbase n=545.

What you see above is a butterfly chart showing how consumers 18+ who own cryptocurrency view Coinbase versus AmEx. 

Among cryptocurrency users, Coinbase is perceived to be more innovative, visionary, and hip (compared to AmEx), while AmEx over-indexes on perception as traditional, corporate, and classy (vs. Coinbase).  The numbers on either side of the graph show where that brand is winning compared to the other.  For example: Coinbase’s Innovative score is 39% (YTD) and AMEX’s is 21%; the difference between the two (+18% for Coinbase) is displayed on the butterfly chart.

Are you an avid NFT collector? Do you have more than one AmEx so you can more quickly reach Delta Diamond status and get extra points on dining? Do you view yourself as someone who is traditional? Innovative? 

While Coinbase gets point for ushering in a new era for the finance savvy, American Express holds up as a classy, traditional brand that consumers trust. 

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