Replicating the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity Experience at Home

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The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is unlike any other week you’ll spend anywhere, professionally speaking. From access to some of the world’s best speakers to the C-Suite executives of your favorite brands to the sheer breadth of work on display, I have never seen a “conference” of any type drive such invigorated conversations, important connections and instant inspiration as I did in Cannes.

But Festival attendance is both a lengthy journey and a significant financial investment, and, for many people, it’s just not possible to make the trip. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to recreate the education and inspiration of the Cannes experience from your own office, and I’ll offer some tips on how to do so here.

Oh, and before you start? Grab a good bottle of rosé. This is actually kind of key, and if you’ve been to Cannes, you know. Grab some snacks, too, while you’re at it; I recommend a fresh baguette and a fine triple crème brie. Maybe some fig jam. And if you’re really looking to recreate the ambiance of the French Riviera, maybe set yourself up with a nice spot in the sun with your laptop.

Now that the scene is set, let’s dig in.

THE SESSIONS

First step: Take a peek at the 2016 official schedule. What looks good to you? With categories spanning Health to Consumer and Technology to Entertainment, there is something (likely a LOT more than just something) for any interest.

Although the Cannes Lions Archives provide full access to attendees, public access to the sessions is somewhat limited. To that end, these daily highlights provided from the Festival organizers, each with a terrific snapshot of the day’s most buzzed-about sessions, provide a glimpse into what attendees experienced on the ground:

  • Day 1 showcased the first day of Lions Entertainment, with TV titan Leslie Moonves, Actress Mindy Kaling, SB Projects’ Scott Manson and FremantleMedia’s Sam Glynn.
  • Day 2 provided the opportunity to really mix up the talks, including WPP, SapientNitro, Brian Eno with Dentsu Lab Tokyo and Hakuhodo Inc.
  • Day 3 included talks featuring Sir John Hegarty, Brian Chesky and Joanna Coles, Samsung, Adobe with Stefan Sagmeister.
  • Day 4 gave insights gleaned from Will Smith and Edelman, Anna Wintour, Usher and Wendy Clark.
  • Day 5 saw Iggy Pop, Gwyneth Paltrow, Keith Weed and Kevin Kelly take to the Cannes Lions stage – click on the link to hear their best bits!
  • Day 6 offered insights from Oscar-winning Director Alejandro G. Iñárritu, legendary creative David Droga, P&G Head Marc Pritchard and VICE’s Shane Smith.
  • Day 7 gave a glimpse of model Shaun Ross, UNIQLO’s John C Jay, Hollwood producer Harvey Weinstein and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
  • Day 8 – the last day of Cannes Lions 2016 – saw Blake Mycoskie, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Sam Ball and Bensimon Byrne take the stage.

Although my favorite session of the week (Anna Wintour in Conversation with Christopher Bailey) is not available anywhere online, some of the week’s other most buzzed-about sessions are, including The Future of Brands, Unfiltered: Storytelling from the Frontline and Wired’s Kevin Kelly on Where We Are All Headed.

Additionally, you can hear from the speakers and panelists themselves through the Lions Backstage series – see Lions Entertainment, Lions Innovation and Lions Health, among other in-depth video content.

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THE WORK + WINNING ENTRIES

The basement of the Palais de Festivals was a veritable museum of inspiration, bringing together hundreds of boards from short-listed campaigns and programs spanning across multiple mediums and disciplines. From radio to mobile, to cyber and health and wellness, to creative effectiveness, glass, and – yes, even PR – it showcased the best in creativity over the past year.

While you can’t see the boards up close, you can view the videos created for each of the short-listed and Lion-winning programs here. It’s very easy to get lost in the work as the sheer number of videos provided via this channel is mind-boggling. It’s unfathomable that there could be a better professional showcase of campaigns anywhere but at the Cannes Festival of Creativity – but this YouTube channel does a pretty solid job.

INSIGHTS + KEY LEARNINGS

With so much to absorb in a relatively short period, it takes some time to sort and reflect everything you’ve experienced once the Festival concludes. To that end, some amazing recaps and learnings are being published, and you can get a solid sense of the takeaways from the random assortment below.

THE FINALE

It’s not enough to talk about inspiration. I walked the Palais with more energy and—to be frank—jealousy than I ever thought possible. The brilliance of these campaigns is inescapable. The Cannes Lions experience as a whole serves as a motivator. It’s a driver. It’s a connector. In so many ways it’s the lighting of a creative fire within that, even being back for almost three weeks, has only been stoked more and more each day as I bring back what I gleaned into my daily work. It’s really not so much the desire to be up on that stage collecting Lions (although Zeno brought home two, and we couldn’t be more thrilled) but to be the one coming up with and driving the ideas that impact change, that make people think and feel and emote, that bring life to a brand or personality to an issue – that is a worthy goal. For all of us.

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