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To Delegate or Not to Delegate, That Is the Question


Prime Chuck’s Charlie Janson weighs up her options and questions whether the ‘bottom feeder’ label is fair

To Delegate or Not to Delegate, That Is the Question

As the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity quickly approaches, some of us hurry to get our notepads ready and others our party attire. There are two groups at Cannes, delegates and non-delegates. I was inspired to write this after hearing non-delegates referred to as “bottom feeders” who strictly go to Cannes to party. 

Yes having a delegate pass is beneficial and I highly recommend companies buying passes for their employees. Without a doubt, the Lions bring in some of the most inspirational speakers and attending as a delegate will give you an opportunity to be inspired by creative and business leaders in our industry and beyond. However, the question is, can you still benefit from being in Cannes if a delegate pass isn’t in your budget? The quick answer, absolutely! 

Arriving on the Croisette without a delegate pass on June 17th doesn’t mean you’re first mission is looking for a party and glass of rose. On the contrary, showing up in Cannes during the festival immediately puts you into a large mix of the best talent in our industry, exposing you to such a wide scope of individuals. There’s everyone from marketers to creatives from media buyers to music composers. There is a wealth of knowledge waiting to be absorbed and you might happen to organically find it while sipping rose on the Carlton terrace. 

Of course, I feel attending the actual festival exposes people to the best work in our industry and the mind-opening talks and workshops. However, not everyone who wants to attend the festival has a salary that matches this desire, wearing your lanyard comes with a heavy price tag. Ironically, it’s the young talent that might benefit the most from the festival and use the knowledge to build a better industry that can’t necessarily afford to attend. Few young creatives are selected by their company to attend and are limited to the few competitions to enter for their chance to be present in Cannes. There are also numerous start-ups that spend all their budget on travel and accommodations (the drinks aren't cheap either). Unfortunately, they don't have a multimillion dollar umbrella company to buy them delegate passes but that doesn’t mean they can’t explore some of the free work being displayed or events being offered. There are endless opportunities to explore the city and learn from leading communications, entertainment, marketing, design and tech experts in a more casual setting. 

In fact, it’s unfortunate if you think the only place you can learn is inside the Palais. The streets are alive and bursting with knowledge and creative inspiration. To be honest, I’ve never made a genuine connection with someone at a contrived self-proclaimed “networking” event. However, on the beach and in the bars, you’re rubbing shoulders with creative people from around the world and given equal opportunity to be heard, sure some do it by singing from a bar at 2am.

I believe more genuine connections can be made spontaneously around unofficial events in Cannes. That week in France gives you an opportunity to stumble upon some of the most interesting people in the most unique settings. Striking up a conversation with a stranger while eating pizza on the curb of the gutter bar or even dancing on a table at La Guerite. As opposed to being handed a business card in a convention centre. Personally, I’ll take an opportunity to experience a genuine moment with someone over a contrived elevator pitch. We’re all human after all!

Delegates should also remember to mix with the other half, map out your day of talks over coffee on a terrace, go to the unofficial beach parties and maybe even skip a talk if you’re invited on a yacht, who knows, you might end up going for a swim with Laura Dern and Sir Martin Sorrell. Or while you're getting rest for tomorrow's next talk, someone else ran into Spike Jonze at the MassiveMusic party and is having an intimate discussion about his favourite lens. Don’t miss the opportunities that come from just roaming the streets. 

If given the opportunity, definitely accept a delegate pass for your opportunity to see world-class speakers and be inspired by the best creative work our industry has to offer. However, for those without a pass, I absolutely encourage you to proudly go to Cannes June 17-24, without a stigma attached that you’re going strictly to party. Go to be inspired. Remember that doesn't need to happen inside an air-conditioned room.

So, if you’re a like-minded person, hit me up if you want my insight into the best Canadian agencies, production, editorial resources and International music houses to work with, of course I’ll tell you about it over some rose by the villa pool, not while wearing a name tag at a networking event.

And to person who called non-delegates “bottom feeders,” you should stick to listening to talks as I don't see anyone learning much from you. 

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