The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity started in 1954, three years after the first color television broadcast on June 25, 1951. Originally called the International Advertising Film Festival, its purpose was to celebrate advertising in the same way that the Cannes Film Festival recognized excellence in entertainment moviemaking. Now billed as “the world’s biggest festival and awards for the creative and marketing communications, entertainment, design and tech industries,” the Festival runs this year from June 18-22.
Set on the Rivera, Cannes Lions is an event that is evolving with today’s challenges. I first attended ten years ago as Head of Global Sales for Nokia Interactive and a sponsor of the festival. At the time, Nokia was the global leader in smartphones and Symbian was the leading operating system. Today, Apple and Samsung are the leaders and Nokia is no longer a player. Change happens quickly and not in a straight line.
This year, over 1,000 speakers will share their opinions and experiences on the state of creativity and the pace of change in today’s marketplace. Cannes Lions has also expanded to include seminars, workshops and interactive sessions. Navigating such a large and impressive event with so many choices in different locations is a challenge.
Here are my four top ways to organize your agenda at Cannes Lions to learn, be inspired and make the most of the opportunities this festival has to offer.
Plan your day based on world-class speakers
If you organize your day based on the speakers you most want to see on stage, you’ll be sure not to miss much. Speaking on subjects from creativity to accountability will be marketing executives from PepsiCo, KFC, Lego, Diageo, American Express, L’Oreal, Royal Philips, Mars, Pfizer, GSK, Nissan, Volvo, Visa, Burger King, Samsung, HP, P&G, The Coca-Cola Company and more, along with leaders in creativity, acting, production, charities, think tanks and music. Representatives from platforms such as Facebook, Uber and Google will provide their perspective on GDRP, privacy and marketing today.
Select the topics that matter most to you
Promising “unbeatable inspiration and networking,” the festival this year is organized around nine subjects or “tracks” that explore the creative process. The nine tracks are communication, craft, entertainment, experience, good, health, impact, reach and innovation.
Organizers intend this new program to make it easy for attendees to find the content that will be most useful and inspiring to them. You may want to organize your schedule by topic, but in my opinion you may miss some of the most impressive speakers that way.
Expand your network; attend the awards shows and experience creative excellence
Creativity across all mediums is celebrated at Cannes Lions, with hundreds of awards given during the week. Each evening you should plan to attend the awards show, where you will see the best creative minds on display.
I’ll leave you with two more tips you may find helpful:
What to wear
The glamorous beach town of Cannes is no place for a suit. According to Cannes veterans, there’s a balance between business and beach-y casual. This season, that means voluminous tops, jumpers and simple silk dresses for women, and lightweight pants, sneakers and loafers for men.
What else to see
If you have a few days after Cannes Lions, I encourage you to explore the beautiful South of France from a different perspective. On my favorites list are ferry excursions to the Lérins Islands; and in nearby Antibes, the Picasso Museum, the daily market (9 a.m.–1 p.m.) and fine dining at Le Michelangelo.
Times are changing, and it’s good to see Cannes Lions adapting to these changes. See you there!
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