When asked: “Would you be willing to go to the south of France for a week and work at the Cannes Lions Festival,” the automatic response is a resounding YES without even thinking. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that you don’t pass up for any reason.
Weeks of planning and additional account work seem trivial in gearing up for the world’s premier creative media and communications event. You’re excited, you’re nervous, and as much as you hear about massive parties, A-list speakers and late nights at “gutter bars,” you have absolutely no idea what you’re in for. Which was exactly my situation on eight days ago when our flight took off.
As a first timer to the Cannes Lions festival I can say with great certainty, you don’t need to be a big name to get a lot out of this experience. Your nerves about the pomp and circumstance of the event are immediately settled when you walk up to the Palais and see the beautiful beaches and blue water just footsteps from the conference.
The surrounding scene may drip of money, but the fact of the matter is, very few people have the kind of cash that would make all of this “normal” to be around. It’s a very fancy and very chic town, and virtually everyone in attendance is just as awestruck by it as I was. Inside the convention, there are no diamond-studded champagne flutes or free iPad dispensing machines. The festival is in many ways a no-frills collection of extraordinary creative work done by a collection of interesting and engaging people from around the world.
The seminars and workshops are amazing. Top dogs from all of the major agencies and brands are here to give their thoughts on where the industry is, where it’s going and what can be done to make it great. You sit in an auditorium and soak up all of this information tweeting as much of it as possible and you hear sound bites that change your entire perception of creativity and client services.
When Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt starts explaining what makes Larry Page a great manager and why the Internet is as powerful to people as clean water, it blows your mind. Hearing Robert Redford talk about taking risks and following your vision, no matter the consequences, refills your ambition reserves and watching the work created by the young filmmakers from our MOFILM client astonishes and reminds you that greatness can come from anywhere.
Are there ridiculous parties, unbelievable meals, and a healthy dosage of snobbery? Absolutely.
Does being at the Cannes Lions Festival inspire you and make you proud of the work that we as communications professionals do? Without question.
Put simply: being at the Cannes Lions Festival does not suck!