This was my first year at Cannes Lions. The Social Element is more involved than ever in the creative side of marketing, and our clients and agency partners are among those winning the biggest awards in the creative industries. It’s important to me that we are there to celebrate their successes, to take our place on the creative stage, and to be inspired by the phenomenon that is Cannes Lions.
I wasn’t without trepidation. I’d heard the stories of excess, and knew that some agencies have pared back their presence there.
But it was a truly amazing experience. All the big agencies, tech brands and social networks have a presence in Cannes Lions, and host independent events away from the ticketed festival. There were lots of opportunities to meet clients and friends, as well as make new contacts with brands and potential clients.
Cannes Lions was all about the networking for me, and about building new relationships and cementing old ones. Social media was centre stage and it was interesting that the biggest events and parties were hosted by the major social networks and technology companies: Spotify, Facebook, Google.
Creativity seeps through the whole place, even away from the main programme and awards. There were some great events, that I found really valuable. The Marketing Academy had an event to launch its US arm on The Wall Street Journal yacht where it hosted brands and agencies. There was an intimate lunch party in a Chateau for the Marketing Society where we celebrated ‘being brave’. I had lunch with a group of female agency owners where we swapped stories and advice. We also hung out at Unruly’s apartment to take a break from the madness.
The most important thing for me was that I had inspiring and interesting conversations with CMOs of some of the biggest brands in the world about how they’re approaching digital transformation and content, two areas that are at the heart of what we offer to clients. I met incredible people and came away with solid business agreements.
This is old-style networking. I found myself doing a beermat flipping challenge with CMOs of some of the biggest brands in the world. And there is excess, of everything. Alcohol, food, parties, and a huge show of wealth from the social networks and media houses trying to woo advertisers. I still think there is a worrying lack of diversity, although diversity was a big topic for discussion within the festival, which gives me great hope that change really is coming.
It was exhausting, but so important to be there. And I’ll definitely be going back next year. To coin a phrase that our CMO, Ashley Cooksley, uses, Cannes Lions really did ‘fill my inspiration bucket’.