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LIVE From Cannes Lions 2024: Highlights From The New Creator Track

By: Viral Nation | 11 mins read |
Cannes Lions 2024 live updates

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has officially kicked off! The sun is shining and the team is out on Viral Nation’s Creator Rooftop leading this year’s new creator festival experience. 

In this LIVE feed, we’ll be extracting insights from the creator’s experience: the best panels, content creators, execs, and brands influencing the trajectory of social media marketing going forward. 

If you haven’t already, take a look at our festival preview: The Road To Cannes Lions: Everything You Need To Know About The New Creator Initiative and follow us on Instagram for ongoing stories from Viral Nation’s team on the ground.

It’s all happening here, so check back regularly for your daily dose of festival updates! 

Monday, June 17

While the LIONS Creators event program doesn’t start until Tuesday, Cannes Lions has officially kicked off with exciting speaker panels, brand activations, and private functions along the French Riviera.

Creator X Brand X Agency Panel: The Future of the Creator Economy

Cannes Lions Creator Economy Panel

On the opening day of Cannes is this private panel, The Future of the Creator Economy, featuring Viral Nation’s CEO Joe Gagliese, YouTube creator Steven He, and Founder & CEO of Tubefilter and the Streamies, Drew Baldwin.

Commenting on the sheer speed of cultural change, Joe Gagliese said, “We gave every human on earth a phone, then we gave every human on earth a phone with the internet, then we built social media platforms and that’s where they went.” He discussed the shift from traditional ad spending to what he coined ‘new media,’ highlighting creators like Steven He, who engage and forge deeper trust with new audiences.

Cannes is characterized by conversations like this between creators, executives, media, and brands as they tackle some of the most pressing issues facing modern advertising and marketing. The event took place at The IPG Common Ground at The Carlton, a venue hosting breakfasts and brunches with discussions covering creativity, technology, and social impact throughout the festival.

Tuesday, June 18

The inaugural LIONS Creator experience is officially open! Today marks a historic moment for Cannes as they roll out the red carpet for the first time for iconic creators like Viral Nation’s very own Steven He, the Rapping Chef, Savannah Delulo, and Lisa Kisber.



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For the next three days, creators will be mixing and mingling with players from some of the biggest brands, learning how to create better work in tailored speaker sessions, and doing what they do best – bringing their unique brand of creativity to their followers on social media. 

Viral Nation’s Creator Rooftop Opens

Viral Nation at Cannes Lions 2024

Viral Nation CEO, Joe Gagliese (left) and Cannes Lions CEO Simon Cook (right).

As Headline Partner, Viral Nation opens the doors to Canne’s first-ever Creator Rooftop with the help of Cannes Lions CEO Simon Cook. Looking to Simon, Joe said, “When I spoke to Simon earlier this year, I have to tell you, he’s one of the most authentic and kind individuals I’ve ever worked with in the space.”


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While Viral Nation has never partnered with Cannes before, Joe reveals the key moment that changed everything, “When we had that conversation about Cannes, the conversation wasn’t about how to put creators in a promotional space for a brand, it wasn’t a conversation about how to leverage creators, it was a conversation about how we celebrate creators.” 

Let’s take a look at what’s happening on Viral Nation’s buzzing Creator Rooftop this week:

The Creator Rooftop at Cannes Lions 2024

It’s in the name – Viral Nation’s Creator Rooftop is the place for creators, creator marketing professionals, and brands looking to connect. This week features panels and roundtables tailored for creators and creator-led marketing and exclusive welcome drinks for creator pass holders. 

e.l.f. at Cannes Lions 2024

With the unforgiving summer heat of South France, e.l.f Beauty is at the Creator Rooftop with a makeup artist on hand to help ‘refresh your e.l.f.’. Visitors at the Beauty Station can try out the French girl aesthetic or a de-puffing facial with chairs to relax and cool down. 

viral nation swag at Cannes Lions 2024

It wouldn’t be Cannes without some branded swag, which just seems to get better every year. Viral Nation is giving away a limited number of ​​Trader Joe’s tote bags with e.l.f products, Liquid IV, and Red Bull, and a Cannes postcard service to send the moment back to loved ones.

Stay tuned right here for more Creator Rooftop coverage!

Creator Panel: Content Creation at the Speed of Culture

Steven He at Cannes Lions 2024 with Viral Nation

In this intimate private panel hosted by Forbes, YouTube sketch comedian Steven He revealed the deeper value of content creation. He said, “The way we all seek information has changed. If you wanted to learn something a couple of decades ago, you’d seek out a professional and ask if they could teach you. Now I want a video of someone showing me ‘here is how to do it,’ and it’s even better if it’s your favorite creator.”

The team from Adobe and Forbes joined creator and comedian Drea Okeke to share insights on keeping up with the demands of content creation. This was a perfect pairing as Drea, like Steven with his hugely popular Asian Difficulty Mode, is also known for parodying her culture, including Nigerian slang and food.

Olympic Torch Passes Through Cannes Lions

Olympic Torch at Cannes Lions 2024

In a once-in-a-decade moment, the Olympic torch made its way through Cannes on the way to this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris. And of course, Coca-Cola was out in force, not missing the chance to activate their brand at this pivotal moment of the festival. The last time the Olympic torch made its way through Cannes was in 2012.

YouTube sketch sensation, Steven He, capitalized on the moment with a new video already reaching six-figure viewers on IG: “How do I explain to my boss I’m late to work because of the OLYMPIC TORCH?”



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Wednesday, June 19

The sun may not be shining, but day two of the Cannes Lions creator experience is ramping up to be the biggest day of the festival. The creator/brand gap was bridged with interesting panels, Elon Musk made an appearance to discuss AI, and more buzzing creator events unfolded on Viral Nation’s Creator Rooftop.

As Viral Nation’s Creator rooftop moves into day two, we’ve seen appearances from top-tier talent like Camila Coutinho and The Try Guys loosening up with a massage. 




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Brand X Creator X Agency Panel: Blazing a Trail for an Equitable Creator Economy

Viral Nation's Joe Gagliese speaks at Cannes Lions 2024

From left to right: Jamie Gutfreund (Creator Economy Strategist), Rahul Titus (Global Head of Influence, Ogilvy), Ashley Cole Seidman (VP of Content Strategy, VISA), Caspar Lee (Investor Creator), Joe Gagliese (CEO, Viral Nation), and Kim Farrell (Global Head of Creators, TikTok).

In partnership with Viral Nation, this LIONS Exchange panel featured six industry titans and creators diving into the nitty-gritty of scaling influencer marketing and how brands can navigate this evolving landscape. 

Joe Gagliese (CEO, Viral Nation) noted a pain point in the brand/creator relationship: “We need to find a balance, because if we put an obligation on the brand to pay in 30 days when they don’t pay anything in 30 days, I think that becomes a little overbearing, especially for enterprise businesses.” Kim Farrell (Global Head of Creators, TikTok) talked about new tools on the platform, like search discovery, and how creators can monetize their content: “Our perspective is to launch a menu of monetization options and let our creators choose which ones serve them best.”

Joe highlighted the significance of MGM Resorts partnering with Viral Nation: “To see ‘Agency of Record (AOR) for influencers,’ to me, is just insane!” He recalled when Viral Nation started 10 years ago and this kind of deal was out of the question. He continued, “They did a deal with us because they wanted to build an infrastructure internally to do creator marketing at scale.”

The moderator, Jamie Gutfreund (Creator Economy Strategist), expressed her frustration on why some brands hesitate to engage in influencer marketing. Joe offered some reasons, starting with attribution: “It’s very hard in a company like Visa to move dollars that you cannot track.” Addressing the elephant in the room, Joe continued, “If one single person makes a mistake, that could potentially end an organization.” But he finished by saying that when you bring creators to marketers and let them just talk, the response from brands is often, “Oh, I love creator marketing!”

While discussing creator entrepreneurial empowerment, Ashley Cole Seidman (VP of Content Strategy, VISA) pointed out the vital role of creator agencies, making it clear that “brands need help getting into [creator marketing] effectively and we’re only so many people. The amount of people working in a brand is staggeringly low for the amount of work that we do. We need agency partners to help us navigate this.”

Steven He Launches Creator Rooftop Breakfast & Lunch

Steven He welcomes creators at Cannes Lions 2024

Creator Steven He took the stage to kick off both the creator’s breakfast: How to Get What You Deserve and the brand marketer lunch: A Shared Language.

Following days of strategic discussions, Steven opened up to an audience of creators about his shift away from traditional acting towards YouTube comedy sketches during the pandemic, saying, “Acting classes, all the productions, nothing was happening…” Despite years of formal training and holding a Bachelor’s degree in acting from London, 2020 stalled Steven’s momentum. He confessed, “So I was at home stuck thinking, how can I progress while my industry literally doesn’t exist?”

YouTube allowed Steven an outlet for both acting and creating: “I turned to making my own work, and comedy sketches was the field I fell in love with.” 220+ videos and two million subscribers later, Steven’s content generates 200M views per month on the video sharing platform.



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Social & Influencer Awards Highlights

Influencer Awards at Cannes Lions 2024

While the Michael CeraVe social media prank, Developed with Dermatologists, Not Michael Cera, swept up the Grand Prix award, it was the Assume That I Can campaign challenging autism bias that won over hearts with a Gold for Co-Creation & User Generated Content.

This year’s Social & Influencer award was judged by Amy Ferguson (Chief Creative Officer, SPECIAL) who said, “This is one of the most modern and exciting categories we have.” The jury had to sift through 1,585 entries from around the world, looking for “work that’s inherently tied to social or use of influencers, or in many cases, both.”

Another standout winner was Orange’s WoMen’s football campaign, which has been celebrated throughout the festival for its use of AI to highlight prejudice in the sport.

Thursday, June 20

The wind and weather are not letting up on day three of the Cannes Lions’ Creator track but that’s not stopping us at Viral Nation’s Creator Rooftop as influencers, brands, and professionals from the creator ecosystem continue to stream in. While this year’s festival is still dominated by AI, it’s the intersection of creators, brands, and agencies that’s getting people talking.


Brand X Agency Panel: Social-First Tactics to Revolutionize Your Consumer Engagement

Viral Nation, e.l.f., and AdAge reps speak at Cannes Lions 2024

From left to right: Emma Ferrara (Viral Nation, Chief Business Development Officer), Patrick O’Keefe (e.l.f Beauty, VP of Integrated Marketing), Jack Neff (AdAge, Editor at Large).

Out on the LIONS Creator Terrace, Viral Nation’s Emma Ferrara (Chief Business Development Officer), spoke with e.l.f. Beauty’s Patrick O’Keefe (VP of Integrated Marketing), with AdAge’s Jack Neff (Editor at Large) moderating. Emma refers to Patrick’s social-first strategy as the ‘gold standard’, a nod to many of e.l.f.’s tactics celebrated in a live AdAge webcast last month. 

Emma asked the audience to reflect on their experience as a consumer: “If you’re paying attention, think about your own behaviors and how you’ve purchased the last 10 products. Where did you discover them? What did you do? How did you find out about the company? And what was your purchasing experience?” 

Taking the audience through the eras of marketing, Emma begins with mass marketing and continues to the personalization that came with technology and data. Finally, she brought us to today: “this third era, which is very much what we’re in, is the era of community. And this is what e.l.f does so incredibly well and what we’re really solving for now is influence.” 

Creator Panel: A New Era of Entertainment

The Era of Entertainment at Cannes Lions 2024

From left to right: Helen O’Donnell (Head of Development, BBC Digital), Drea Okeke (Creator), Josh Richards (Creator), Steven He (Creator).

Next up on the Creators Terrace was this diverse panel of creators exchanging stories from their time as full-time social influencers. The panel was an extension of the atmosphere of learning and sharing found across socials, with a buzzy experiential twist. 

Creator Josh Richards shared how a disappointing experience translates to authentic and relatable content: “Our reservation got double booked and we ended up going to McDonald’s. ‘Okay, what can we do to save this night?’ In the moment of not knowing what to do next…people can connect to that, relate to that. So just being able to show that we all are going through the same stuff and show that authenticity, I think is key.”

It was a sentiment mirrored by creator Drea Okeke who noted the freedom of expression that comes with the field: “So I feel like, in the creator economy, there’s space for the creators who structure and strategize, and there’s space for the creators who are like, ‘I’m living my best life and I’m just gonna post whatever’, and it works.”

The loose and spontaneous energy contrasted with the professional backdrop of the traditional brand and agency presence at the festival. Creator Steven He excitedly shared a similar experience where a repurposed video for YouTube Shorts. What he called ‘three seconds of trash’, became the most viewed video on his channel with 110M views. 

Creator Takeover: Savannah DeLullo, The Rapping Chef, Lisa Kisber, Steven He

Cannes Lions is alive with energy, and Viral Nation Talent creators are leaving their mark on the festival in several unexpected ways.



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The Rapping Chef, invited by TikTok For Business, has been a standout presence at the festival and was spotted performing at Spotify Beach. Meanwhile, Savannah DeLullo turned heads at Paris Hilton’s DJ set for Ray-Ban Meta, capturing the energy on IG with her signature flair. 


Lisa Kisber was seen partying with Viral Nation’s team, enjoying the best of Cannes’ nightlife. Steven He is having a busy festival to say the least by taking to the stage for not one, not two, but three panels (above), as well as introducing Viral Nation’s creator breakfast and professional lunch. Phew! 

Speaking to Marketing Brew at Cannes, Viral Nation CEO Joe Gagliese said, “When we think about the talk tracks, themes and speakers, it’s been crafted, both on Cannes side and on our side, to create value for the creators themselves.”

“We’ve been working hard as a team to try to make sure that the track that we build for these folks is genuinely creating value for the individual and not necessarily just about the marketing or just about the brand deals.”

Friday, June 21 

Cannes Lions 2024

That’s A Wrap!

Viral Nation’s Creator Rooftop has sadly closed, activations are packing down, and all our creative professionals are heading back to their respective homes. It’s been quite the week with the new creator track causing waves at the festival. News outlets, brands, and agencies have welcomed the new mingling of audiences, an ode to a festival that’s not afraid to evolve with the changing media landscape. 

As well as following up with new contacts on LinkedIn, this is a good time to reflect on the insights learned from an experience packed with diverse perspectives. 

Three quick takeaways from Cannes Lions’ new creator track

  1. AI is not just here to stay, but it’s been quickly integrated into all our favorite social media campaign workflow and management apps. 
  2. Creators have been legitimized as marketing professionals, solidifying their position as a cornerstone of social-first transformation.
  3. Cannes Lions award-winning brands are social media-led, maintaining and growing market leadership across generations. 

Viral Nation’s CEO Joe Gagliese closed off the week by speaking to AdAge: “Brands have been pretty forthcoming in saying, ‘[Influencer marketing] is a major focus area for us.’ It’s no longer, ‘Is this something we should do?’ It’s a lot of, ‘We need to expand this channel.’”

We’ll see you all at Cannes Lions 2025! Look out for our post Cannes Lions wrap up, coming soon. 

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