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Cannes Lions: A 5-Point Beginner’s Guide

Awards and Events 0 Add to collection

Survival tips from ADCAN founding partner and EP at TBWA\Media Arts Lab, Dan Heighes

Cannes Lions: A 5-Point Beginner’s Guide
Firstly let’s tackle the overriding question: what’s the point?  

If there’s one thing this industry does well it’s self-praise, back slapping and telling each other how brilliant we all are. And there’s a hell of a lot of that going on at Cannes.

Cannes is the polar opposite of The ADCAN Awards, where we aim to use creativity as a force for good – but to be fair it does have its benefits.

For one week pretty much the whole of the global media industry descends upon this beautiful French Riviera town with a bang. These days it does feel a bit like it’s being taken over by brands and agency networks, with their logos and banners present on every corner, but dig a little deeper and the essence is still there.

If you are lucky enough to have an actual pass to the convention then congratulations, you’re in the minority and will see and hear some amazing speakers. That’s one thing the Cannes Lions does incredibly well; attract diverse and interesting talent.

Most people just go to ‘network'. And when I say network I mean drink and celebrate – cue back slapping. It really is an absurd scenario and by Wednesday the Croisette, the Carlton Terrace and 72 La Croisette, a.k.a. the ‘Gutter Bar’, will be a throbbing mass of advertising and media folk.

So here withhold my 5-point survival guide.

1. Get up, get out and meet some people. You'll meet amazing people and make some life changing connections, but you'll need to focus and follow up on those drunken conversations from the night before.  That’s where experience comes in – pace yourself, hydrate, and get out of the gutter! Look around the place, it’s beautiful and the more ‘experienced’ people will be further out of town.

2. Say yes to everything (but probably go to nothing) – bloody wristbands. You’ll spend way too much time, hungover and dehydrated, staggering around trying to find a random stranger for a must have party wristband. (Then comes the challenge of trying to convince them you’re somebody else entirely.) There are loads of parties. They are great, but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t make one.  If you’re having a good time, then stay there and enjoy yourself!

3. Money. Cannes is expensive. Be prepared and make friends with those lucky folk with company credit cards. The Carlton terrace is insane, but so are their prices! Those Jeroboams of rosé don’t come cheap.

4. Blag, blag, blag. Go on a yacht. Go to a villa BBQ or to a private beach. Get to a pool party. Go to an island, a nice restaurant. But remember what I said earlier about the ‘experienced’ ones not being in the gutter - there’s a reason for that!

5. Look after each other and have fun. That’s what Cannes is all about; fun and meeting people. Just keep an eye out for each other as it quickly gets out of control – and yes, that’s often how the best stories are made, but ensure it’s a positive story and not a ‘did you see (insert name here) run down the Croisette naked' story. Remember you’ll be working with these people back in your home city next week and someone’s bound to have taken a snap for the back pages of an industry mag… 

Oh, and one final point. That plane ride home is one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever had! Be prepared.

Hope you have a great time and buy me a drink if you see me propped up on the curb outside the Gutter Bar. 

Dan Heighes
Founding partner at ADCAN and EP at TBWA\Media Arts Lab
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