Live From Cannes Lions: Inside Five Engagement-rich Brand Activations


The pitch to festivalgoers at Spotify’s massive beach footprint centered around the creativity that audio enables on the platform, from live podcasts to collaborative playlists to video podcasting. Sustainability and inclusivity messaging permeated the activation as well, with biodegradable and recyclable items offered at its café bar, nods to partnerships with nonprofits and scannable Spotify codes (QR-like tags that connect users to content in its app) to minimize waste.

Food and beverage stations were themed, the first of which was a podcast bar produced in partnership with Equal Measures, a UK-based charity organization that invests in elevating underrepresented individuals in the hospitality industry. The bar highlighted the work of three of the group’s mixologists, each of whom invented a cocktail based on one of Spotify’s most popular podcasts, like “The Unbothered Vernors Highball,” named after a podcast from Jemele Hill.

If interested in recreating the experience and making their own cocktails at home, attendees could also access video podcasts of each bartender preparing the drinks by scanning a Spotify code.

Another sizable podcast touchpoint: A standalone podcast studio, featuring the Spotify logo as a porthole, located at the edge of Spotify’s pier. It functioned as a meeting room and also a space to make live recordings. Headphones were provided for attendees to listen to content on Spotify Live. Along the pier, pod-like lounge areas with couches and tables offered additional space for open-air meetings.

A large stage showcasing content during the day and musical artists in the evenings was located at the center of the activation. Food and drink options along its perimeter included an ice cream station dubbed The Culture Scoop featuring unusual ice cream flavors, such as burnt sage and honey lavender peach, made live on-site by New York City-based chef Nick Morgenstern, the original creator of charcoal ice cream.

Aside from their unique flavor palettes, each ice cream creation sported a name—like “Nouveau Nostalgia,” for instance—reflecting the top five trends in Spotify’s “Culture Next” report for the advertising community, an annual insights report covering the latest Gen Z trends. Attendees could pick up a hard copy of the report or scan it to their phones from signage placed throughout the footprint.

Showcasing Spotify’s new celebrity Blend playlist feature was its “Blend Bar,” offering smoothies, juices and custom coffees made by award-winning barista Victor Delpierre and produced in partnership with the Orang Utan Coffee Project, which aims to produce ecologically-friendly coffee while protecting orangutans in their rainforest habitats. Spotify Blend typically allows users to combine a playlist with a friend’s musical taste, but recently it expanded to include blending a playlist with a participating celebrity artist. On-site, attendees could scan a barcode to order a drink and also randomly select an artist to blend a playlist with, then access it through a code printed on the cup. Worth noting: Only sustainable, biodegradable or recyclable items were available at the bar, highlighting the activation’s sustainability commitments.

Lastly, tucked away in the corner was a small photo activation for Spotify’s “All Ears on You” campaign, which was recognized by the Cannes Lions’ shortlist. In the ad, Spotify users cruise around the city while floating inside giant bubbles as they listen to their playlists. The idea is that audio is an immersive, direct experience for consumers. After taking a quick selfie, festivalgoers appeared to be “trapped” inside the bubble themselves, flying across the city of Cannes while listening to their favorite tunes.

Guests visited the “Swag Bar” on their way out, which offered up practical items to assist attendees during the festival, including a power bank, a personalized passport holder, a water bottle and a small fan worn around the neck to keep cool. (Agency: Spotify In-House Global Experiential, Content and Production Team)

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