CANNES — "Smoke and mirrors in marketing" is over, Hollywood star Will Smith told a packed audience at the 2016 Cannes Lions festival today.

Smith, who was in conversation with Edelman global creative chair Jackie Cooper, made the comments while explaining how his own approach to marketing his movies and ventures has changed markedly over the past decade. "I consider myself a marketer," he said.

"People are going to know really quickly, and globally, whether your product is keeping its promises," said Smith. "The power has gone away from marketers. The power is now in the hands of the audience and fans. As someone who wants to market material globally — the only choice I have is to be in tune with their needs. Not trying to trick them into going to see the Wild Wild West."

Earlier in his career, continued Smith, he had been far more concerned with winning, rather than believing in a specific project. "Things started to go wrong when I moved away from a focus on my art, toward a focus on winning."

That mentality is something marketers need to resist, he explained. "The deepest comprehension for me has shifted from product to people. In making that shift, I am trusting that if I have a deeper comprehension of people, the product I make will be more successful."

Cooper, meanwhile, wondered about 'purpose' — a word that is heard frequently at Cannes Lions. From Smith's perspective, brands must begin with this in mind, rather than trying to add it in at a later stage.

"It’s very difficult to reverse engineer purpose," he said. " The only mission statement that is worth having — improve lives."

[Photo courtesy of @MMCtweets]