It’s almost time to head to Cannes Lions, the annual pilgrimage to the French Riviera for a week of deal-making, relationship-building, and (maybe) a little fun.
Although on paper it seems that an event like Cannes could take place anywhere and the lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous caliber of the scenery (and cost to be there!) might make it hard to explain the trip to your CFO (thank you Cannes committee), it is those very factors that actually make it so productive. The high costs ensure that the attendees skew to more senior executives, and the high fixed costs and multi-day minimums make it more likely that those senior execs will stay for a longer stretch. Meanwhile, the beautiful setting and late nights lead to a more relaxed atmosphere that is ideal for building relationships, sharing ideas and plans, and setting partnership agendas that you can check back in on during marketing’s next big European event, Dmexco, in September…and then again a year later back in Cannes!
So, as you make your final preparations, here’s some practical advice to help you make the most of your week—on the personal and business fronts. While I’m far from a Cannes expert (this will be just my fourth trip to Cannes and the eighth for MediaMath), I do have a few observations on how to make the most of your time.
On the business side, my top advice is: think big. Like I said, this is an opportunity to step away from the day-to-day, engage with senior leaders, and set the course for the coming year. What are your top themes for the year? What’s the five-year plan? Now take it up a notch—and then write it down in simple form. And write down what you can offer to and ask from your top clients and partners, so you’ll be ready to go deep during those great rosé-inspired conversations.
Also think big on your schedule. Don’t make it too jam-packed, because it can take time to get around the Croisette for meetings, BUT do stretch it out. You won’t want to start too early, but don’t be shy about booking meetings right up until 8pm. You might even find yourself booking two dinners—a 9pm and an 11pm (the latter is the normal dinner time in this part of the world anyway).
Hydrate but don’t water down your day
On the personal side, don’t forget the basics: drink plenty of water (no, rosé doesn’t count), wear comfortable shoes (the Croisette is best navigated on foot), bring a spare phone battery, and don’t forget the sunscreen. It can be tough to get around, so build in some travel time between meetings—and don’t count on getting back to your room/Airbnb during the day. Again, max it out. Finally, take a few minutes now to actually RSVP to those party invites you’ve been receiving. You might be surprised, but security has gotten serious in the last few years, and if you’re not on the list, it’s tough to get in.
As Karen so aptly wrote in her post, events like Cannes are changing out of necessity given the climate of both advertising and the world. It is not all business and fun. It’s also about having a dialogue that moves the needle on how to get better as an industry, how to treat all populations that both deliver and engage in advertising in a respectful, inclusive way. It’s time to get serious—even in a place like Cannes—and do the good we know we can, as business people, as marketers, as humans. Are you game?