This year's Cannes Lions Festival begins on Monday, June 18 and wraps up on Friday, June 22. In addition to the main events and awards shows, there are also plenty of fringe events to take part in around the city.
With hundreds of speakers spread across just 5 days and 9 tracks (communication, craft, entertainment, experience, good, health, impact, reach and innovation) running simultaneously, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the festival has to offer. Plan your time wisely by looking through the speaker list and choosing 'Save to Favorites' to mark the speaker sessions you are interested in. The speaker sessions will then be saved to your agenda, which you can also view in a timeline format, to easily see which events are overlapping and prioritize accordingly.
That said, it's important to not pack your schedule too tightly and leave room for spontaneous meeting and socializing with other festival-goers. Attendees at Cannes Lions tend to be senior or high-level executives either from global agencies or in-house marketing teams, and there is a lot you can learn from chatting to the person you are standing next in line to. Not only will you learn a lot - regular attendees to the festival say that the meetings and deals inked at the festival itself is what makes the high festival costs worth the investment.
There are dozens of awards up for grabs spread across 26 main categories and nine themes (Communication, Craft, Entertainment, Experience, Good, Health, Impact, Innovation, Reach).
In addition to the main Lions awards, there is also the Cannes Young Lions competition in tandem. The Cannes Young Lions are designed to allow the next generation of creative superstars to demonstrate their creativity on a global stage. Taking place live in Cannes, competitors must have won their local Young Lions Competitions to compete in Cannes. The categories for the Cannes Young Lions are Print, Media, Digital, Film, Marketers, Design, PR.
This year, expect a greater showcase of innovation and technology. While the festival has historically had creativity at the heart and center of it, that focus is quickly shifting, with the introduction of the innovation track and the Innovation Lions, which are intended to "honour ground-breaking innovation, technology and problem solving. Standalone technological solutions including tools, products, models, platforms and other forms of ad tech will also be recognised, as well as creative campaigns utilising new tech."
The ad industry has been losing large accounts and talent as major advertisers move more and more of their marketing efforts in-house or to digital agencies. The sophisticated, lavish parties associated with Cannes is giving way to the playful, hacker culture of Silicon Valley, a shift that was first signaled by the giant Snapchat ferris wheel greeting festival goers at last year's Lions. This year, giants like Apple, Amazon, and Uber will be joining the festival for the first time in a big way, with speakers from the tech world speaking on the main stage instead of being merely part of fringe events. Expect to see, hear about, and experience a range of new technologies, from VR to blockchain.
Anatoly Roytman, managing director of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Accenture Interactive, said to AdAge that it's good for the industry when new tech expressions such as blockchain go to Cannes. "It's not just about X or Y, but all of the things combined. If you attend any of our sessions, it will talk about media and the ability to connect it to other things. What we are doing is something very different to the totality of the experience. Agencies need to be accountable for the business outcome, not just for clicks or views. This is the message we will be pushing at Cannes."
Chatter has been going around the internet about how this will be the first Cannes since #metoo and the Cambridge Analytica scandal exploded. No doubt these topics of trust, protection, privacy and ethics will be hotly debated at the festival.
Says Margaret Johnson, partner and chief creative officer at Goodby Silverstein & Partners: “The #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, which have impacted so many agencies at the leadership level this year [will be a hot topic]. In the last six months, our industry has gone through a major transformation. It’s been painful, but it’s making the industry better not just for women but for all of us.” AdAge also reported that "in May, the Cannes Film Festival convened with a new hotline to report sexual harassment and notes in attendees' hotel rooms warning that harassment is a crime."
Katy Alonzo, Group Strategy Director at Droga5 told Fast Company: “In the wake of Cambridge Analytica, it’s critical to remind the rest of the world that, as an industry, we strive to earn consumers’ attention, admiration, and spend, and that we don’t believe we are entitled to it.”
Image source: Media Marketing
A key part of the festival, the Awards Shows are not only a great way to be inspired by some of the most cutting-edge work out there, it's also a place you where can expect to cross paths with top CMOs and agency executives. Brands like L'Oreal, Mars, P&G, MasterCard, Carlsberg, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Unilever, HP, American Express, Nestle, General Motors will have representatives present at Cannes, which represents a marketing budget of nearly $120 million, according to US Campaign.
Leave your suits behind - the Cannes Lions festival is set against the stunning beach backdrop of the French Riviera and the mingling and parties tend to extend past sunset. Smart casual or semi-formal business attire is suitable enough - light fabrics with layers that you can easily shed throughout the day are the way to go as you transition from sessions indoors in the Palais to outdoors on the beach.
Image source: zoodigital.com
US Campaign reported that this year "the number of marketers entering awards for work created by their in-house teams [is] up 22 percent so far from last year. More than 60 CMOs will speak on stage during the week, including P&G’s Marc Pritchard, Samsung Electronics’ YoungHee Lee, Uber’s Bozomo St. John and so on."
This year, pass collection will be held at Gare Maritime, Cannes which is located behind the Palais des Festivals, next to the Harbour. Ticket collection can be done anytime between the following times:
Sunday 17 June 08:00 – 20:00*
Monday 18 June 08:00 – 20:00
Tuesday 19 June 08:00 – 20:00
Wednesday 20 June 08:00 – 20:00
Thursday 21 June 09:00 – 18:00
Friday 22 June 09:00 – 18:00
*Please note Sunday 17 June is pre-registration only. The Festival will be open from Monday 18 June.
Because the Cannes Lions is such a high-profile event, security in and around the festival grounds will be extremely tight. Expect bag checks and ID checks. If you don't bring your delegate pass with you, you will very likely be refused entry into the venues.
Hopefully these helpful tips have given you a better idea of what you can expect and gear up for at this year's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
If you will be at the festival and want to meet up with us to learn about how we are helping brands optimize their social media engagement, get in touch - we'd love to meet you at Cannes!