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Preparing for the Cannes Comeback



Paul Gunning, CEO and President, DDB Chicago, shares his plan for conquering Cannes Lions 2017

Preparing for the Cannes Comeback

For the last three years, I’ve had to cancel my trip to Cannes because of new business pitches (all of which we won), but 2017 is looking like the year I’ll make my Cannes comeback. And like all good comebacks, my plan for conquering the festival will use a mixture of strategies. 

Accommodations: New for me this year, I’ll be staying at an Airbnb apartment rather than a hotel. I am rolling the dice that this will be a quieter lodging option. I have come to find that it’s not the late night crowds that keep me up, but rather the sound of hundreds of Rose bottles clinking and crashing with the morning garbage pick-up that can be a rude awakening. 

Credential Pick Up: I’ll be arriving on Tuesday, so Cannes will already be in full swing. So one of the first things I like to do upon arrival is head straight to the Festival and pick up my credentials. A mid-day check-in should be a relatively quick experience so I can get on with my plans. I have learned going before the morning sessions can be chaotic.

Pacing is Key: I have a lot of meetings planned, many of them with people I have known for years but don’t see often, and oddly the South of France is the only place we can catch up. In an effort to see everyone and everything at the Festival, it’s easy to over-extend yourself. And on the flip side, the relaxed environment, beautiful scenery and familiar faces can quickly change your schedule. Don’t let Cannes get the best of you–Have a plan. Set a pace. Stick to both. 

Categorise and Prioritise Meetings: I have five types of meetings when I’m in Cannes. The first is with clients. Always meet with the clients. I plan the rest of my schedule around these meetings because we’re able to have quiet, in-depth conversations in an open and relaxing atmosphere. That time is invaluable.  

Second, are meetings with the partners we frequently tap into for pitches or client engagements. Google, Facebook, Buzzfeed and others not only have a solid presence in Cannes, they tend to preview product innovations. 

Third, is my personal network. I always make time for events where I can catch up with the many people I’ve met throughout my 20+ years in this business. At one point we were colleagues and maybe now we compete; but this business changes fast and the people you know and trust are a competitive asset that needs to be maintained. Plus, it’s fun.

The fourth type of meeting is internal, for me specifically with others in the Omnicom network. My years as Global CEO of Tribal Worldwide introduced me to other Omnicom agency leaders, and these have been vital connections that I’ve been able to call upon for major pitches.  

The fifth and final meeting isn’t really scheduled, but rather an impromptu meeting. You never know who will sit down next to you at dinner or on the patio. I always try and leave some time and energy in the tank for the chaos and serendipity that is Cannes. That’s where the stories usually come from.  

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DDB North America, Fri, 16 Jun 2017 13:31:32 GMT