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The Trade Desk

Day 27: 7 of the most memorable talks at Cannes

Since 1991, the Cannes Lions stage has played host to celebrities, thinkers and even presidents. We've rounded up the most thought-provoking talks

It wasn’t until 1991 that seminars and workshops were added to the Cannes Lions festival lineup. Since then, a variety of high profile figures have taken to the stage. Here are some of the most memorable celebrity talks.

Al Gore

In 2007, Al Gore used his speech to issue a rallying cry to adland to use its power to help change the world for the better.

"The advertising industry – one that in the past has been pointed to as crass and exploitive and focused on ends over means – actually has men and women that care so deeply to use their talent and experiences to help lead the way. You can make the crucial difference," he said.

The Black Eyed Peas musician did not bite his tongue when he spoke in 2011 after being appointed creative director of Intel. "Ad agencies are yesterday," he said.

His message to the room was to harness creative talent and find new ways of cutting through. He said: "Yesterday's ways of informing people don’t work today. So people are open-minded to anything creative."

Bill Clinton

It was quite the coup when, in 2012, the festival secured former US president Bill Clinton to speak.

During a wide-ranging talk, he asked adland to help address some of the world’s biggest economic and socio-political problems by providing "honest, synthesized intelligence".

"We need people like you to fire our imagination and fill our brains as well as our hearts. You know how to overcome people's inherent resistance to hearing a set of facts they hadn't imagined were true, yet are," he said.


In 2014, Bono, the U2 front man, accepted the inaugural Cannes LionHeart award for co-founding the organisation (Red).

During his acceptance speech, he called on adland, "the creative engine of capitalism" to use their "big brains" for good.

He said one of the challenges of promoting (Red) was "compassion fatigue". He implored the marketing industry, to keep up the heat and the intensity of the issue. "This is not cause marketing," he said, it "is an emergency"

Kanye West

Also making an appearance in 2014 was the hip-hop artist Kanye West. Bizarre quotes came thick and fast. His sign-off was: "Empower the best content creators, or fuck off."

Other gems included: "It’s just ridiculous to give any celebrity a creative director role of anything...There’s only like three guys it could possibly work with. That’s Ryan Leslie, me and"

Kim Kardashian

The following year, West’s wife was in town to promote her popular game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, which allows people to virtually live her life. She discussed social media strategy, Instagram and authenticity, and ended her talk with a selfie of her and the audience.

Sir Tim Berners Lee

Who better to talk about the future of digital than the man who invented the world wide web? Sir Tim Berners Lee was on stage in 2015. He was positive about open data and AI's impact on business on society, particularly in health and wellbeing. But he warned that there was a "red line". "If robots are given the same legal rights as human beings then it's time to put the brakes on," he said


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