Live From Cannes: Marketing Is All Tech Now, but Tech Desperately Needs Marketing

June 23, 2022

One thing that strikes me here at the Cannes Lions 2022 festival is how many panels talked about how there are fewer and fewer actual “CMOs” now and way more chief commercial, growth or revenue officers.

Even those roles that are technically still for a chief marketing officer are all about having technical skills and being able to hit data-driven benchmarks that are facilitated now by technology in a way that wasn’t the case 10-20 years ago.

Similarly, LinkedIn’s CEO Ryan Roslansky spoke on stage sharing the results of an exclusive survey done for the conference: the share of creative skills in the advertising sector has dried up. “More people with creative skills are leaving the advertising sector than joining,” he said. Instead, the industry has been rapidly hiring people with tech skills, like data analytics.

Point being–technology is taking over marketing, to borrow from the famous observation that “software is eating the world.” And marketing pros who want to survive and thrive will have to be fluent in this new language and able to both structure and hit these new benchmarks.

As Sir Martin Sorrell observed during one session I attended, Cannes Lions used to be focused on media and marketing, and now it’s a big tech conference, featuring companies like Amazon, Google, Meta, Twitter, and Spotify. It’s a tech-driven list.

So far, I think we know all this, right?

But here’s the twist.

While technology might be taking over the job of chief marketing officers, there is a glaring gap to fill in helping tech companies market themselves better to clients and the public.

That’s right.

Ironically, the biggest need in marketing right now might be to help all of these new platforms pitch themselves to clients better. As Roslansky said on stage, if he had to put his money anywhere these days it would be in B2B tech, helping the raft of new enterprise companies get their message out better.

“All the most innovative products were complex until they made a promise that people understand,” he said. Apple’s iPod wasn’t the first MP3 player on the market. But the promise of “1,000 songs in your pocket” was what helped make it obvious to people what it was for. The amount of storage or other features weren’t the story. The emotional promise was.

Tech companies don’t know how to be as good as Apple is at marketing, as well as making products. The LinkedIn CEO showed on screen a list of corporate logos, highlighting some of the biggest recent IPOs and the companies that (according to LinkedIn’s exclusive data analysis) are showing the most job-hunting growth activity on their platform. The common thread: B2B tech.

Some of them are huge publicly traded firms, and others are up and coming (yet still massive) privately held B2B tech firms LinkedIn’s data says are growing and hiring the most.

All of these companies still have huge market caps, but they haven’t gotten the attention of the public yet, he added. And in the case of B2B, the buyer is trickier to discern. It’s not the typical mass marketing approach of selling car insurance or canned soda. The business buyer is harder to track down and has to make a decision with a group of colleagues.

How will marketers and advertisers reach them?

That is the paradox of Cannes Lions 2022–showing how technology is reshaping the world of marketing and advertising, while underscoring how the tech world now needs to do a much better job of marketing itself. That is where the real opportunity for marketing and advertising now lies.

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About the author

Eric Chemi is a senior vice president for broadcast strategy at Bospar. His career has spanned the intersection of business, technology and communications. After earning a computer science degree at MIT, he worked as a hedge fund trader for several years. He then transitioned to media roles at Bloomberg and later CNBC, where he was an on-air reporter. He joined Bospar in 2021. At Bospar, Eric helps clients better tell their stories, working with them to craft narratives to secure earned media coverage. He also conducts media training for CEOs, founders and executives. Eric leads clients through crisis communication needs and with major announcements such as going public, M&A, executive transitions and raising new funds. He hosts Bospar’s “Politely Pushy” podcast, interviewing thought leaders in technology, at startups, and from marketing, business, PR, advertising and communications.