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Cannes Lions Has Company: Concurrent VidCon, NFT.NYC Events Compete for Marketers’ Attention

Cannes Lions Has Company: Concurrent VidCon, NFT.NYC Events Compete for Marketers’ Attention

Marketers on Monday returned in person to the French Riviera for the weeklong Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity after a two-year break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic. But two other meetings of rising importance that coincide on the calendar this year with the advertising industry’s highest-profile annual conference have divided the attention of some.

NFT.NYC opened Monday, the same day that Cannes Lions kicked off, for its fourth year of talk about nonfungible tokens. Alongside attendees, whom organizers refer to as the NFT community, the agenda for the four days lists speakers with roles at marketers including fashion brand Coach, jeans maker Wrangler and sports-betting company

DraftKings Inc.

And VidCon, an annual convention in Anaheim, Calif., centered around digital creators, is meeting in person Wednesday through Saturday, with executives from brands including food and beverage company

Nestlé SA,

dating app Tinder, fast-food chain

Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.,

crypto exchange and media company Hello Sunshine scheduled to take the stage there.

The confluence showcases the shifting trends in marketing, including a rising focus on video creators, social-media influencers, and NFTs and other elements of Web3 technology, a budding iteration of the internet that is built using decentralized blockchains.

Some marketers—and the advertising platforms that court them—will be at all three events, while others are picking their priorities.

Social-media company


parent Meta Platforms Inc. is attending Cannes Lions, VidCon and NFT.NYC to promote its products to the marketers at each event, said

Nicola Mendelsohn,

vice president of Meta’s global business group.

“People are wanting to understand where consumers are going, where the technology is going, where the best places to be able to reach them, and, accordingly, how they will be able to grow,” Ms. Mendelsohon said of the three events.

Whalar Ltd., a marketing agency that specializes in working with creators, decided to send 15 executives to Cannes, 13 to VidCon and three to NFT.NYC.

VidCon and NFT.NYC represent where the marketing industry is headed, said

Jamie Gutfreund,

global chief marketing officer for Whalar.

“It is a bit of an interesting moment in time, where the traditional creative approach has not really welcomed the creator economy, whereas the other two events are obviously all about the creator economy,” Ms. Gutfreund said.

The NFT.NYC conference kicked off in New York on Monday.


John Marshall Mantel/Zuma Press

Malik Ducard, chief content officer at social-media platform

Pinterest Inc.,

this week is making his way to both Cannes and VidCon.

“Many of us, like myself, are happy to have the opportunity to join both as we focus on key constituents, brands and creators,” Mr. Ducard said.

Media.Monks, a marketing-services agency owned by S4Capital, is sending employees and executives to Cannes as it has in the past, but the company has also deployed more team members to NFT.NYC than it has before.

Employees are asking to go to NFT.NYC because they are interested in the evolution of NFTs and the community around them, said Henry Cowling, chief innovation officer at Media.Monks.


Tripadvisor Inc.

is coming back to Cannes this year, the travel company said, but isn’t planning to be at VidCon or NFT.NYC.

“Cannes is important and unique in that it brings together global perspectives from all different industries and experiences—something that is core to Tripadvisor, as a brand, as well,” said Christina Maguire, the company’s general manager and vice president for global media business.

Cannes Lions remains the pre-eminent ad-industry event, gathering attendees from all over the world for talks, networking, meetings, highly coveted awards, celebrity appearances and concerts over the course of five days.

It is tracking to reach about 12,000 attendees this year, in line with 2019’s numbers, an event spokeswoman said earlier this month.

NFT.NYC has grown to an expected 12,000 attendees this year, from 262 for its inaugural event in 2019, said co-founder Jodee Rich. This year’s event is spread across 10 stages, up from four last year.

VidCon declined to disclose how many attendees have registered this year, but said more than 150 speakers are scheduled, with about 100 sponsors and exhibitors set to be on hand as well.

Ally Financial Inc.

is sending employees to VidCon because the conference brings fans together with creators and platforms, making it easier to understand the consumer reaction, said

Andrea Brimmer,

chief marketing and public relations officer of the digital financial-services company. Ally Financial isn’t going to Cannes Lions or NFT.NYC.

Many of the conferences have grown so big that it becomes difficult to understand broader trends and what’s important to customers, Ms. Brimmer said.

Ms. Brimmer herself isn’t attending VidCon, preferring to study executive summaries from her team, she said. “I’ve personally found it more productive to just kind of stay back and do the work,” she said.

Write to Ann-Marie Alcántara at

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Charting the Non-Linear Events in Life

Charting the Non-Linear Events in Life

Mathematician Eugenia Cheng explores the uses of math beyond the classroom. Read more columns here.

Many of us have experienced grief recently, having lost loved ones to the pandemic or suffered other tragedies. It is often said that grief isn’t linear; it doesn’t plod in a predictable straight line, but takes terrible twists and turns, rearing up without warning.

I can think of few things as unmathematical as grief, yet we use this oddly mathematical term “linear” to discuss it. Linear algebra is essentially the math of things that move in straight lines. It is a very stringent requirement. Like grief, most things are not linear. But there are other types of behavior we can look for in mathematical functions and real life.

If a function keeps going in generally the same direction, though not in a straight line, it’s called monotonic. Exponentials and logarithms are monotonic but not linear. Some people argue that rates of taxation should be monotonic with income, so that someone who earns more doesn’t pay a lower effective tax rate; however, this is often not the case in practice. People who want to lose or gain weight often get frustrated that body weight is not monotonic across time, but fluctuates up and down with things like fluid retention. Sometimes a monotonic function can be derived, despite fluctuations, by taking averages across chunks of time, say a week, or a month.

Charts are not just about drawing pretty pictures, but finding ways to understand key features about a function quickly.

The behavior of functions is much easier to recognize visually than in a formula, so we draw graphs to help us. Turning a function into a graph is an amazing process of translating something abstract and invisible into something that allows us to invoke our visual intuition. When we draw a function out on a graph we can immediately see other features beyond linearity and monotonicity, such as whether or not it has gaps or sharp corners. If it has no gaps it is called continuous, and if it has no corners it is called smooth.

Calculus provides techniques for figuring what the graph is going to look like beyond plotting points, because even if you plot millions of points you might miss some feature in between those points. The idea is to understand how abstract features give rise to the visual features (corners, gaps and so on): It’s not just about drawing pretty pictures, but finding ways to understand key features about a function quickly.

We might also do the reverse and take some data, plot the graph, and then try and fit a function to it. We can then use the function to predict what will happen in the future. This is what is done with data in the pandemic: Case numbers provide data that can be plotted in a graph, and then a function can be found that approximates those numbers. As the function can be applied to points in time beyond the data we have now, this gives us a way of estimating what will happen in the future. It’s not an exact science, because many non-linear functions that start off with the same shape behave differently later.

Reverse-engineering a function to fit some experimental data can also give us insight into causality. The structure of the function may indicate to us some basic principles at work, such as the laws of physics. Tracking the motion of planets enabled mathematicians to fit their path to an ellipse shape, with the motion dependent on a planet’s position relative to the sun at any moment. This is just a mathematical formula, but hints at the sun’s physical role in influencing the movement of the planets.

Saying grief isn’t linear is a severe understatement, as it’s not even monotonic, continuous, or smooth. Math gives us ways to carefully distinguish between different scenarios and sequences to delineate any situation. This doesn’t make grief go away, but it can be cathartic to have ways to depict its unpredictable trajectory.

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Apple Event 2022: New Low-End iPhone Expected to Have 5G Service

Apple Event 2022: New Low-End iPhone Expected to Have 5G Service

Apple Inc.

AAPL -0.38%

is bringing 5G cellular connectivity to cheaper iPhones, a move some on Wall Street say will continue to fuel record sales this year as concerns linger over demand for the more-expensive versions.

The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant is slated to reveal the third-generation iPhone SE on Tuesday during a virtual event on the company’s website, starting at 1 p.m. ET. Apple is also expected to unveil an updated iPad Air with a faster processor as well as 5G, and new computers with faster chips, according to a person familiar with the plans.

The iPhone SE was an early pandemic darling for Apple. Sales of the device approached 25 million, or 12% of the company’s estimated global smartphone shipments, in 2020, according to researcher IDC. Apple doesn’t break out results by iPhone model.

The low-end model, which starts at $399 and comes with the smallest display size of 4.7 inches, fared less well in the past year with the arrival of Apple’s flagship products. Those include the iPhone 12 lineup, which introduced ultrafast 5G to the company’s smartphone offerings for the first time and was given a boost with price breaks from carriers eager to get customers onto the new cellular networks.

Sales of the high-end devices helped propel iPhone sales to a record $192 billion in fiscal 2021 and contributed to the year’s record profit of almost $100 billion. At the same time, shipments of the iPhone SE that lacked 5G fell an estimated 40% in 2021 compared with 2020, according to IDC.

“Obviously, some of the phones that Apple has launched have been really expensive, for the mostly mid- to high-end consumer, so now you get an affordable phone with 5G,”

Samik Chatterjee,

an analyst for

J.P. Morgan,

said in an interview.

Mr. Chatterjee raised his earnings estimates for the fiscal year because of expectations for the iPhone lineup, including his faith in the potential of the SE model to appeal to price-conscious buyers looking for 5G. He is forecasting that the SE version could tally 30 million units sold in the first year and help boost overall iPhone shipments to a record of 250 million.

“That’s what will give investors confidence that Apple can continue to grow iPhone revenues,” he said.

Starting in February, U.S. cellular carriers will begin to shut down 3G. WSJ’s Joanna Stern got an old iPhone 3G and iPhone 4 working on the old network, in order to remember all it did to shape the smartphone revolution. Photo illustration: Preston Jessee for The Wall Street Journal

The iPhone 12—and the iterative iPhone 13 versions introduced last fall—helped fuel renewed interest among Chinese consumers. The iPhone’s strength was aided by the collapse of Huawei Technologies Co.’s smartphone business amid sanctions by the U.S. government. The sanctions stripped Huawei of the ability to use

Alphabet Inc.’s

GOOG 0.23%

Android operating system. In the final three months of last year, the iPhone retook the top spot as the bestselling smartphone in China. Mr. Chatterjee said the SE model could benefit from the China dynamics and the country’s interest in 5G phones.

Other analysts seem to be warming to Apple’s potential this year as well. As recently as late last year, the average estimate of analysts surveyed by FactSet predicted flat iPhone sales for the current fiscal year, which ends in September, amid worries that the appeal of the iPhone might have peaked during the year after the big upgrade with 5G technology.

In recent weeks, optimism about the company’s outlook has been growing, aided by stronger-than-expected results for the final three months of last year. Analysts now expect iPhone revenue to rise 5% this fiscal year—after soaring 39% in fiscal 2021.

When the first SE model made its debut in 2016, some analysts said the device could help Apple in markets outside of the U.S. where the iPhone—which can cost more than $1,500—is priced out of reach. Instead, the top three markets for the cheaper device last year were the U.S., Japan and Western Europe, according to IDC.

‘Some of the phones that Apple has launched have been really expensive, for the mostly mid- to high-end consumer, so now you get an affordable phone with 5G.’

— Samik Chatterjee, J.P. Morgan analyst

In China, the SE made up less than 10% of shipments, according to Chiew Le Xuan, an analyst at research firm Canalys. He said the phone struggled against budget-oriented Android rivals and expressed skepticism that the new version would do well in China.

“The iPhone SE third generation may seem like a hit in China due to Apple’s increasing market share and 5G penetration,” he said in an email. “However, according to Canalys data, Chinese consumers are inclined towards phones with a larger display.”

In the U.S., the SE has been a gateway to the Apple brand for owners of less-expensive Android phones. Last year, 26% of SE buyers previously had an Android phone, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners’ surveys of consumers. “IPhone SE has become a sort of entry-level iPhone, mostly because of its price point,” said

Michael Levin,

Consumer Intelligence Research co-founder.

Apple again might benefit from carriers eager to push its latest phones on customers, according to

Cliff Maldonado,

principal analyst for BayStreet Research, which tracks marketing efforts by the wireless-service providers.

The carriers are eager to move customers from 4G to the new faster networks because it is cheaper for them to deliver the same amount of data. Mr. Maldonado forecasts that carriers will reach about 95% of 5G subscribers in mid-2024. 5G has been aimed at improving connections for games and videos.

“The carriers will be happy to push the SE3 over the previous SE2 at roughly the same $400 price point because the SE3 will allow the carrier to support the phone less expensively on 5G than 4G LTE,” he said.

Write to Tim Higgins at

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Mikaela Shiffrin Skids Out Again in Final Beijing Olympics Individual Event

Mikaela Shiffrin Skids Out Again in Final Beijing Olympics Individual Event

YANQING, China—Mikaela Shiffrin skidded out of the the third of her five races at the Beijing Olympics on Thursday, the alpine combined, meaning the U.S. skiing superstar won’t win an individual medal at these Games.

Shiffrin passed the fifth gate—where she had skied out in the first two races at these Olympics, then had actual nightmares about it as she slept—but faltered a few gates later. 

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A Russian Doping Test Engulfs the Beijing Olympics’ Marquee Figure Skating Events

A Russian Doping Test Engulfs the Beijing Olympics’ Marquee Figure Skating Events

BEIJING—The Winter Olympics were plunged into drama on Friday over a Russian doping case that has rocked the marquee figure skating events here and pitted Russia—already under sanction over state-sponsored doping—against international sports organizations in a court battle that could drag on several more days. 

The International Testing Agency, which oversees Olympic drug-testing, ended days of speculation on Friday when it said that Kamila Valieva, a teenage Russian star and jumping phenom, had a positive result for a banned substance in late December. 

The test sets up a familiar battle that pits Russia against much of the rest of the global sports community over doping violations. Russia is already banned from international sports competition for its epic state-sponsored doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. 

The new case puts one of skating’s most supremely talented athletes, the 15-year-old Valieva, at the center of a maelstrom—just after she had won one gold medal and just before she is heavily favored to win another by performing as many as three quadruple jumps in a single program.

It leaves open the question of who won the coveted team title: the Russian Olympic Committee, or perhaps second-place-finisher the United States. And it ensures that the run-up to the women’s singles competition next week—perhaps the most high-profile event of the Games—will be engulfed in legal action.

The ROC took first in the figure skating team event.


sebastien bozon/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

The drama began not at the Beijing Olympics, but at a domestic competition in Russia at the end of 2021.

A testing sample collected by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency at the Russian Figure Skating Championships in St. Petersburg in late December was returned on Feb. 8 showing that Valieva had tested positive for trimetazidine, a heart drug, the ITA said. 

The drug is typically used to treat coronary heart disease and is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency as the drug can also increase blood flow, which is likely related to increased cardiac output. 

The result arrived one day after the 15-year-old clinched victory for the ROC in the figure skating team event on Monday, in which she also became the first female skater to land a quadruple jump at the Olympic Games in a moment that awed fans around the world. 

Valieva was briefly suspended by the Russian anti-doping agency, and didn’t practice the next day, before the agency overturned the suspension. She is due to compete again as gold-medal favorite in the women’s singles event Feb. 15.

But her return is far from assured. The International Olympic Committee, the World Anti-Doping Agency and International Skating Union indicated Friday they would appeal the Russian agency’s decision.

Now it will fall to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to determine whether Valieva can compete in the women’s event and whether the ROC will lose the prestigious team title.

The case raises questions about the arrival of the test results at the worst possible moment for all competitors in one of the Olympics’ most popular and high-profile sports. It also comes at a time of heightened geopolitical tensions between Russia and the West, as international sports organizations face renewed questions over the robustness of Russia’s anti-doping stance, and concerns grow around the welfare of child athletes, in particular. 

Technically, Russia isn’t even at the Olympics. The international ban means its athletes compete not under the Russian name and flag, but that of the Russian Olympic Committee. Russian officials have previously called the doping suspension politically motivated. And international sports bodies have been accused of being timid in the face of repeated rule violations.

The ROC on Friday said it would take “comprehensive measures” to protect the team and keep its gold medal in the figure skating competition. It also suggested a possible conspiracy against the Russian team, questioning the timing of the test result’s arrival—the day after their team won gold in Beijing—and that it took some 45 days to analyze it.

“It’s very likely that someone held this probe until the end of the team figure skating tournament,” said Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the ROC president. The ITA declined to comment. 

The Kremlin, meanwhile, offered its “absolutely unlimited” support to Valieva. On Friday, she skated through an official practice session with multiple falls in a run-through of her free program, then hid her face inside a hooded sweatshirt while passing reporters on the way out. 

“We say to Kamila: ‘Kamila, don’t hide your face, you are a Russian woman, walk proudly everywhere and, most importantly, speak up and defeat everyone,” presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, cited by state newswire TASS.

The matter is no less weighty to officials in the U.S. and elsewhere. 

“For us, this is less about medals and more about protecting the sanctity of fair and clean sport and holding those accountable that don’t uphold the Olympic values,” said Kate Hartman, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee.

Travis Tygart, the head of the U.S. anti-doping agency, also criticized the delay in getting Valieva’s result. 

“It’s a catastrophic failure of the system,” he said. “It’s an awful set of facts that easily could have been prevented.”

The accredited Swedish laboratory that handled Valieva’s Dec. 25 test said it couldn’t comment on a pending case.

And the IOC insisted that it had acted appropriately with regards to ROC and all its competitors. 

“We don’t take mass actions against groups of people but against individuals,” IOC spokesman Mark Adams told reporters Friday. “We wouldn’t try a whole class of people and chuck them out.”

“The central principle of the IOC is that we have to be politically neutral,” he said. “We don’t bow to any side in these cases.”

Valieva’s case highlights a structural problem with doping in Russia, dating back to Soviet times, said Lukas Aubin, a researcher at Paris-Nanterre University who focuses on Russian sports and politics.

“The problem is with the structure of the sporting system in Russia where people at the top are asking for better results and those underneath have to deliver, like a pyramid,” Aubin said. “They are fighting against themselves and against their history.”

Trimetazidine, the drug at the center of the Valieva case, was unlikely to have a therapeutic use for a young Olympian, said Aaron Baggish, director of the cardiovascular performance program at Massachusetts General Hospital. 

“It is a metabolic modulator thought to increase blood flow to the heart and perhaps improve metabolic efficiency in heart muscle cells,” he said, adding that he believed use as a performance enhancing drug “is uncommon but it is out there.”

Kamila Valieva of the Russian Olympic Committee with teammates and coaches during a training session.



The Russian Figure Skating Federation said Friday that it “has no doubts about [Valieva’s] honesty and purity.”

The case was further complicated by Valieva’s age. Being 15, she counts as a “Protected Person” under the World Anti-Doping Code, which the ITA said had delayed the public disclosure. But with speculation in the media running rampant and several outlets naming Valieva, the organization said it decided to publish more information on the situation. 

Valieva, in her first season of being old enough to compete at the senior level, has also emerged as the leader of a pack of talented Russian skaters capable of sweeping the podium by unleashing a slew of exceptionally difficult jumps. She set new highest scores for the women and broke them herself several times during the current season. 

That group, almost all of whom are coached by Eteri Tutberidze of Moscow, have achieved extraordinary success through their technical prowess. But their slight frames and short competitive careers have also drawn scrutiny of the physical and mental toll on athletes who have often retired before they are 18.

Write to Louise Radnofsky at and Georgi Kantchev at

What to Know About the Beijing Winter Olympics

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