What Marketers Need to Know for Cannes Lions 2017

June 12, 2017 — by Emma Williams

Next week I’ll be in the south of France for the 64th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, where the world’s biggest brands come together to inspire, network and ultimately strive to move the marketing and advertising industry to new heights.

In the space of a week, thousands of influencers from the communications, marketing, entertainment, design and tech space will line the Boulevard De La Croisette in Cannes to attend hundreds of talks, events, meetings, boat trips, experiential pop-ups and much more.

Needless to say…it gets busy! But as the head of global marketing for MediaMath, this isn’t my first rodeo.

This year is my fifth year running MediaMath’s presence in Cannes and over the years as a “Cannes veteran” I’ve learned a thing or two about how to survive(!) and make the most of this unique and sometimes crazy week.

Whether you’re a Cannes Lions first-timer or a veteran, I’ve put together some tips and best practices to help you get a head start on running events at an action-packed, yet fun-filled festival:

  • Prepare. This might be obvious and it’s easy for me to say with only a week to go, but get all of your meetings prepped and strategized up front so when it comes to the crunch, you’re ready to go. This way, you’re set up for success to make highly impactful business decisions when meeting with clients, partners or high-level prospects. Over the years, I’ve learned that preparation is key from the very beginning because later down the line — when you’re in the thick of the week-long festivities — you’ll get tired and run down. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!


  • Network and build lasting connections. Once a year, an incredible amount of innovators and influencers come together in one place…to talk!  This is not a time to “catch up on emails” or “dial into calls.” Seize the moment. Cannes Lions offers such a unique experience for marketers to meet so many people that will benefit your business and career, so get out and meet them. But remember, take their number, get their card and follow up afterwards.


  • Look for great content. It’s everywhere! Cannes is the home of world-class content and whether you’re attending the main festival or not, there’s so much to learn — from how to change healthcare with virtual reality or using emotional intelligence to build global brands. Look for free events promoted on the run up to Cannes and as you walk along the Boulevard de la Croisette, ask people to recommend any events or talks to help you figure out what’s going on. It’s easy to get carried away with meeting so many people and networking but try to fit in one piece of content, per day. If nothing else, it’s a great opportunity to get educated and pick up on new skills. 


  • Be mindful. Mindfulness is such a buzzword right now, but when you’re in such a busy environment it’s hard not to constantly plan for the next thing. Try to get out of your planning mind state and ensure you’re present by appreciating whatever’s going on during any activity, meeting or event you’re at. It’s not every day you get to see the view of the Croisette during a strategy meeting, so embrace it.  


  • Eat, drink, sleep. It seems simple, but you can’t be your best self without ensuring your basic needs are met, and this can be tough when you’re traipsing from meeting to meeting and staying out late. If you’re hosting meetings, I’d advise you have plenty of water, fruit, snack bars or energy foods for your guests.  If you are attending meetings, snack and graze as you go along to keep energy levels up, never refuse a glass of water! It will provide you with more energy than a cup of coffee.

At the end of it all, work hard and play hard! And swim in the sea! It’s glorious and will help wake you up and cool you down between appointments. That said, don’t loose sight of why you’re there in the first place – have fun in Cannes with your colleagues, clients and partners because it will lead to deep and lasting relationships that you will be able to draw on to achieve your future business goals.