Cannes Lions 2018 Preview

Cannes Lions (June 18 to June 22) is one of my favorite events of the year. Set on the Rivera, it has an unbeatable scenic backdrop. It is also an event that is evolving with today’s challenges. I attended ten years ago as Head of Global Sales for Nokia Interactive and a sponsor of the festival. At the time, Nokia was the global leader in smartphones and Symbian was the leading operating system. Today, Apple and Samsung are the leaders and Nokia is no longer a player. Change happens quickly and not in a straight line.

This year, over a thousand speakers will share their opinions and experiences on the state of creativity and the pace of change in today’s marketplace. Cannes Lions has also expanded to include seminars, workshops, and interactive sessions. Navigating such a large and impressive event with so many choices in different locations is a challenge.

My number one suggestion is to be friendly to the people you are line with or sitting next two. You will learn so much from other attendees. The second tip is to go to the cocktail parties and post event activities scheduled by Cannes Lions. My favorite session of the event is the Economist CMO session held daily on the beach at 10AM. Cannes Lions is all about networking and world class content and thought leaders. Taking the time to learn about subjects important to you and attending sessions with speakers you don’t agree with are ways to broaden your business and world view. Do not over schedule yourself at Cannes, The random meeting are sometimes the best. Lastly, save three hours to walk the basement of the Palais to see all of the creative on display.

Here are my four ways to organize your agenda at Cannes Lions to learn, be inspired, and make the most of the opportunities this festival has to offer. At Cannes Lions the people that you sit with or wait on line are as interesting as the speakers.

Plan your day based on world-class speakers

If you organize your day based on the speakers you most want to see on stage, you’ll be sure not to miss much. Choosing may be difficult, however: a small sampling of your choices are, from the retail sector, Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President of Apple Retail; Avery Baker, Chief Brand Officer, Tommy Hilfiger; Dan Burdett, Head of the Marketing Lab at Ebay; and Rebecca Minkoff, Founder, Rebecca Minkoff.

Speaking on subjects from creativity to accountability will be marketing leaders from PepsiCo, KFC, Lego, Diageo, American Express, L’Oreal, Royal Philips, Mars, Pfizer, GSK, Nissan, Volvo, Visa, Burger King, Samsung, HP, P&G, The Coca-Cola Company, and more.

Also featured are leaders in creativity, acting, production, charities, think tanks, and music, while representatives from platforms such as Facebook, Uber, and Google will provide their perspective on GDRP, privacy, and marketing today.

Select the topics that matter most to you

Promising “unbeatable inspiration and networking,” the festival this year is organized around nine subjects, or “tracks,” that explore the creative process. The nine tracks are communication, craft, entertainment, experience, good, health, impact, reach, and innovation.

Organizers intend this new program to make it easy for attendees to find the content that will be most useful and inspiring to them. You may want to organize your schedule by topic, but my opinion is that you may miss some of the most impressive speakers that way.

Expand your network

Attend the awards shows and experience creative excellence

Creativity across all mediums is celebrated at Cannes Lions, with hundreds of awards given during the week. Each evening you should plan to attend the awards show, where you will see the best creative minds on display.

I’ll leave you with two more tips you may find helpful:

What to wear

The glamorous beach town of Cannes is no place for a suit. According to Cannes veterans, there’s a balance between business and beach-y casual. This season, that means voluminous tops, jumpers, and simple silk dresses for women, and lightweight pants, sneakers, and loafers for men.

What else to see

If you have a few days after Cannes Lions, I encourage you to explore the beautiful South of France from a different perspective. On my favorites list are ferry excursions to the Lérins Islands; and in nearby Antibes, the Picasso Museum, the daily market (9 a.m.­–1 p.m.), and fine dining at Le Michelangelo.

Times are changing, and it’s good to see Cannes Lions adapting to these changes. See you in Cannes!