Creative, News

The Full Recap of Our Cannes Lions Experience

Written by Tim Edmundson


After a week full of rosé, fine dining, and inspiring discussions on the state of creativity, Cannes Lions 2016 has finally come to an end. If you weren’t one of the lucky few to spend your past week in the south of France, instead living vicariously through numerous photo albums, tweets, and the occasional Periscope, then you may think the week was just one long yacht party. And you wouldn’t exactly be wrong – but it was so much more.

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SteelHouse had a packed agenda throughout the week, hosting multiple events, discussions, panels, and parties that sought to bring the creative side out of everyone in attendance. SteelHouse went above and beyond the normal Cannes Lions routine by hosting must-attend events every night aboard the SteelHouse Yacht, introduced a new way to build digital ads, and helped drive the creative conversation by hosting a panel on the relationship between technology and creativity.

So while those who attended are still making their way back home, let’s take a look at some of our favorite moments and events at Cannes Lions.


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Cannes Lions is at the heart of the creative world, and we felt it the best place possible to reveal the SteelHouse Creative Suite, our new ad builder and creative library that lets anyone create ads in minutes.

To celebrate the announcement and give guests an idea of the power behind our new Creative Suite, we hosted The Ad Builder Experience. Located centrally in the Palais, the Experience featured a photo booth that captured stylized selfies composited on dream-like Getty Image backgrounds. After a brief product demo, the SteelHouse team allowed guests to dive in and create their own digital ad by adding personalized text and image overlays, and then share it out on social to show the rest of the world.

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What resulted were some fun photos that not only helped show off the Ad Builder concept, but gave a unique souvenir to anyone who built an ad. And we knew we were leaving an impression with the creative minds we so wanted to engage – the product was described as “slick,” “amazing,” with follow ups like “we’re seriously going to have to meet about this,” and “this may be the global creative platform we’ve been looking for” by the creative leaders of some of the world’s largest brands.

If you want to take a look at what everyone created at the Experience, check out our gallery featuring the “best of” content made at the show.


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Our President and CEO Mark Douglas sat in on a panel with our friends and fellow industry thought leaders at OMD entitled “Creativity at the Intersection of Content and Data.” With a backdrop of the Mediterranean behind them, the panel discussed how the landscape of digital media is in a state of constant evolution. The focus was primarily on the rise of content marketing – a tactic that helps brands avoid banner blindness and ad blockers, and effectively turns them into publishers. By creating content that can be useful to their audience, brands hope to engage their audience and avoid getting tuned out.

With the reveal of the Creative Suite, Mark had his own take on engaging audiences. The greater the idea, the better chance the message will land with the intended audience – and to unearth more great ideas, there should be a push to democratize creativity. “A big idea can happen anywhere, and you can capture it and share it with the world with the Creative Suite. We’re no longer in a position where only a few control the creative process. Creativity is now in the hands of anyone who is inspired to create.”


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Wyclef Jean boarded the SteelHouse yacht for an intimate gathering to discuss the marriage of technology and creative. They tackled everything from the evolution of music, to creativity and technology and the art of thinking ahead. And while the conversation started broadly, the conversation soon turned to a fascinating analysis of Wyclef’s evolution as an artist. And in turn, how he has seen creativity evolve – “The reason I love SteelHouse is because you are putting creativity back in the hands of the creative,” he said, regarding the Creative Suite. He was so impressed with the Ad Builder, he said he would even consider using it to design the cover of his next album.

Wyclef left us impressed, and we must have made a good impression as well because he swung by the next day to treat everyone to a private guitar lesson. As it would turn out, Wyclef is possibly the world’s best artist to discuss the merger of technology and creativity – after his Q&A session, he told us that he was trading guitar lessons with CEO & Co-Founder of Periscope, Keyvon Beykpour in exchange for coding lessons. We offered up the SteelHouse Yacht as a venue, and he happily accepted the invitation. With a quick turnaround, we collected a band’s worth of instruments, invited a small audience, and hosted Wyclef’s lesson while he broadcasted live on Periscope. Afterwards, he treated our audience to a mini-concert which drew the attention of neighboring yachts, turning our small audience into a much larger one.

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Being able to sit down and have a conversation with someone as creatively talented as Wyclef Jean is one thing, but to have him come back and give everyone an up close display of that creativity was amazing – it was definitely one of the highlights of our experience.


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Cannes isn’t just about thought leadership – it’s also about the thought leaders themselves. SteelHouse came to Cannes to not only help drive the creative discussion, but to also meet with old friends in the creative field as well as make new ones. And what better way to bring people together than music, food, and dancing aboard a colossal yacht?

Most attendees expect a party or two, but we went above and beyond by hosting parties every night on the SteelHouse Yacht. Ranging from happy hours, to Euro soccer viewing parties, to DJs and dancing, there was a little bit of everything for everybody. We hosted an after party for not only our panel, but also the OMD After Party and the official after party for the Annual Julie Thompson Dinner, which resulted in some of the most fun we had all trip.

We went all out to show creative decision makers the SteelHouse culture, and we ended up drawing a lot attention – and with good reason. The dance floors were packed and the yacht was rocking, so much that we had to move tables off the deck to make even more room for the dance floor. Our DJs spun late into the night for some of Cannes’ best parties – so good in fact, the DJ for a neighboring yacht decided he’d rather be at our party instead of his – and not only did we make a good impression with a lot of great people, we made some new friendships as well.


Cannes Lions was definitely a bigger event this year than years before, and a lot of that had to do with the surge in the attendance of ad tech companies. We knew we were going to be one of many in the industry coming to the event, but we didn’t let that temper our excitement. Instead, it galvanized us – we knew we could show what SteelHouse is all about, and do it right next to our competitors. With the ability to reach so many high level creative leaders in one space, it was too big of an opportunity to let pass by.

And thanks to a great team, smart planning, and wonderful guests, we were able to do just that. We were able to show Cannes a wonderful time, contribute and lead the discussion on creativity, and show the world the future of ad building. With all of these experiences under our belts, we can’t wait for next year. See you then!

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