Q&A: Meta’s Global Experiential Lead on the 2023 Cannes Lions Reels SuperStudio

“We’re still committed—I think even more so—to bringing back in-person experiences. Moving forward, ‘hybrid’ would be the word. The intention for the metaverse is to try to be expansive, and that means breaking down barriers and merging or blurring the lines between VR, AR and IRL. You need people to do that. People are always, and will always be, the focus of what Meta builds for.”

-Damien Baines, Global Experiential Lead, Meta

The centerpiece of Meta’s activation at the 2023 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity—where tens of thousands of executives gather to celebrate excellence in the marketing and advertising industries—was the creator-led Reels SuperStudio for the second consecutive year. But while the first collab with artist Felipe Pantone focused on how Reels’ augmented reality tools enable transitions and content development, this year’s iteration with KidSuper Studios hit on brands’ opportunities to capitalize on Reels’ explosive growth.

Meta’s backing up its pitch with impressive stats. For one, the number of Reels shared daily on the platform has doubled to two billion over the last six months, according to the brand. “Our goal was to try to educate our brand and media partners here at Cannes on the importance of all of the creative considerations and optimize best performance in Reels,” says Damien Baines, global experiential lead at Meta. “We are focusing on where there are immediate opportunities and value.”

Following is a conversation between our sister publication, Chief Marketer, and Baines, which covers Meta’s strategic marketing goals at Cannes Lions; the origins of the KidSuper collab; the inspiration behind the activation’s design and aesthetic; and Meta’s experiential approach moving forward.

meta-cannes-2022-footprint-luke-hayes-photo-cred_teaserFrom the Cannes Lions Archives:

Instagram’s activations at Cannes Lions have wowed attendees and racked up industry awards in recent years—and you’ve lead the charge for the past eight. Tell us about your inspiration for this year’s Reels SuperStudio activation.

Damien Baines, Global Experiential Lead at Meta: The SuperStudio originated last year with creator Felipe Pantone. We were focused on creating an exciting environment, incorporating AR for the awesome transitions and just developing great content. We built some equity in that, so we continued with the Reels SuperStudio again this year, but in partnership with KidSuper, a collaborator coming at it from a different angle.

Our intention for this is a bit more specific. Our goal was to try to educate our brand partners and media partners here at Cannes on the importance of all of the creative considerations and optimize best performance in Reels. So, that would include creating natively for 9×16 vertical, as well as the safe zones and “sound on.” You’d be surprised how many people do not create natively in that way. The flip side of that is how much the performance improves.


How did you land on the particular design and aesthetic?

DB: Before you walk in, you’re met by a sculpture garden. For the partnership with KidSuper, we asked them, what are you doing right now? What are you making, creating? We wanted to make this as collaborative as possible, and his Paris Fashion show this Saturday is focused on “how to find an idea.” I thought, oh my God, this is perfect, because we think Reels is the best way to express an idea.

So, you’re met with what we are calling “totems of creativity,” these surrealist, oversized, pieces. A crumpled up ball that has some doodles and sketches on it. A paper plane, as if you’re taking a creative break. We were excited about making them extra-sized and playful, along with the spirit of the brand.

Also, you’ll see doodles on the floor—and it’s not just aesthetics. We are actually mapping how you go from the seed or the germ of an idea to [completion]. Along the outside, which you can see from the pier and up close as well, are different ideas on how to create a Reel. For instance, forced perspective: We’ve storyboarded that out to show how you can build that for yourself while you’re here at Cannes. And it’s changing every day.


Meta_Cannes Lions 2023_Kidsuper retail_Credit_Sean_Ebsworth_Barnes_as_photographer

Inside the Reels SuperStudio, festivalgoers create Reels using AR effects, sound and this KidSuper-inspired backdrop.


How are attendees guided through the Reels SuperStudio experience?

DB: We have creative directors and brand ambassadors telling them about KidSuper and directing them and guiding them through the prompts. Once you enter the space, there’s an education zone, because we want to give you all of the things you need to remember before you go into the content creation moment.

We also have some stats and wonderful ideas to advance and underscore performant aspects of Reels. We have 3.8 billion people are on the platform, and over half of the time spent is with video and with Reels. Over the last six months, we’ve doubled it to having over two billion shares of Reels daily on the platform. And then 64 percent of the people surveyed [in a short-form video study by Factworks] have actually purchased a product or a service after viewing a Reel. So it has huge commercial implications. Because this is a business audience and we have so many powerful, important brands and media partners here at Cannes, these are the points that we’re trying to underscore…

Head over to Chief Marketer to read the full interview.


Photo credit: Sean Ebsworth Barnes

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