How to Hack Cannes Lions as a Young Creative
To be perfectly honest, I’m not really a Cannes winner. I entered the US Young Lions competition for the second year in a row with my art director partner (Claire Zimmerman) and placed second in the digital category. While we beat out 70+ entries, we were just one spot away from representing the US and competing at a global level at Cannes Lions, along with an all-expenses paid trip. Thankfully, POSSIBLE was incredibly supportive of this achievement and sent me to Cannes Lions anyways. Dreams do come true!
Because it was my first time, I was going to go to Cannes and get the most out of it. So, I documented everything - my Instagram stories were on point. I went to tons of talks and was inspired/shook to my core. And I grabbed all the free rosé and free KFC chicken that I could. But, the key to really hacking Cannes and making the most of it was this:
1. Go to all the free beaches. Twitter, Facebook, Spotify, Google, Little Black Book and countless others had a beach/spots on La Croisette. At the very least, they had free food/coffee/smoothies all day, (almost) every day. Facebook had an exclusive installation and workshops to show you how to best use their product and Google had an immersive experience for a campaign. Twitter and Spotify beaches had amazing concerts and French fries - clearly I had to have my French fries in Cannes.
2. Be nice to everyone. This goes for life in general, but especially for Cannes. It even started at the airport. My friend and I were able to go from almost not being able to rent a car to see the lavender fields (because neither of us knew how to drive a manual), to cruising the South of France in a Mercedes-Benz convertible with the top down - for the same price. In just five days, I met/exchanged info with an Associate Creative Director from David Miami, someone who was a band manager for top acts in London, and someone who did event management in Saudi Arabia. Including that wonderful lady who gave us the keys to the Benz (thank you!), you never know who you’re going to meet and who’s going to change your life. Being nice in Cannes is the way to go.
3. Bring a side project. It was glaringly obvious that there weren’t any real talks about the #MeToo or Time’sUp movements. Actually, it was really shocking that it wasn’t more apparent. So, I teamed up with Claire again, along with another young creative named Marina Rutenberg, to push the conversation forward. With Unsolicited AirDrop, we took advantage of the AirDrop feature on iPhones to parallel it with sexual harassment. Because some people unknowingly had it on, I was able to send an AirDrop to a lot of people throughout the festival - and even got it sent back to me. When I showed this feature to an Associate Creative Director at another agency, he said he’d never seen any sort of AirDrop hack before.
4. Take notes on everything. Because festivals/conferences are inspiring, but are nothing without action/actual change/reminders of what you’ve learned. It’s also very dark in those theatres when you’re watching any talks, so writing in a notebook was not ideal. I rapidly typed away nuggets of advice to remember in the moment and afterwards. Maybe it’s the copywriter in me, but I love good inspiration anytime I can get it.
Overall, I still feel like I crushed it at Cannes, even if I didn’t get up on the stage. So, if you’re a young creative and want to make the most of Cannes, do what I did: read up as much as you can (including this article), then figure out how you can play the game at the biggest ad industry event in the world. Good luck!
Cat Samarista is a copywriter at POSSIBLE