I Am Kind of a Cannes Freak
My first time at Cannes was 2002 and I was 22, wide-eyed and hell bent on seeing every possible piece of work, talk and party I could sneak into. Over the past 14 years I’ve been back every year and I feel very fortunate to have grown up together with the festival.
The options for learning, being entertained, meeting new people and getting handed flyers are endless so I would say a practical tip for making the most of the week would be to start slow and control your FOMO. Trying to do everything in the first two days will make the week feel like Dante’s French Inferno. There's too much to see, so much to learn, too many people to talk to and have an overpriced, warm beer with, you need to pace yourself. Or not.
Admittedly I am kind of a Cannes freak. I get up super early and try go to every seminar, every event and every meeting, but I most love spending time inside the Palais seeing as much work as possible. I tell myself at the end of every Cannes that I'll do it differently next year, but I never do.
Nowadays there are so many people and brands at the festival and so many fascinating speakers to see that you need to pick and chose carefully. Always have a plan B because although being at a huge festival full of like-minded peers is amazing, there's a good chance everyone wants to see the same stuff as you.
A great way to go against the grain, avoid long lines and get the most of your experience is to review the shortlists with your teams. There's a ton of learning to be done by just seeing the shortlists in every category. Why? For starters everyone sees the winners, even people who don´t attend the festival, but not everyone sees the variety and diversity of the shortlist. Many times really great ideas just don't win. They are too ahead of their time, they aren't told in the right way or they don´t have the right crafting and they don’t make it past the shortlist. Understanding why is a great learning experience.
Oh, and if there’s one thing you should wake up really early and get in line for it’s Saatchi’s New Directors' Showcase. I’ve seen it 14 years in a row and it’s always one of the most inspiring moments of the week. Now with the Internet it’s a little less surprising, but there’s always a gem you haven’t heard of there.
On the more frivolous side, after having walked up and down the Croisette more times than Trump says HUGE, head up to the old town, walk the back streets, go the beaches past the harbour, take a boat to the island and get free snacks at the sponsored beaches.
I highly advise to not stress about trying to get into every party. There´s a lot of bracelet posing in Cannes and it’s a waste of time. Some of the best memories I ever had have been at the Gutter Bar. It’s the one place where everyone is welcome and everyone is game. I've made some true friends there, from all over the world. Not networking, but friendships made at sunrise after a long night of fun.
Having said that, this year I will be on the Radio jury so while you are all off having fun I'll be on the terrace of the Palais with headphones on listening to some the world´s best copywriting and searching for work that stands out. But don´t feel sorry for me. I´ll still make it to the Gutter bar and be there until sunrise.