Identity Architects: Cannes 2024 Top Tips

Identity Architects: Cannes 2024 Top Tips
Ben Cicchetti
Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Cannes Lions has become a cornerstone of the media industry calendar, unfolding yearly in the picturesque South of France. Despite its reputation for indulgent Rosé consumption, Cannes Lions is far more than just a social event; it is a pivotal gathering where deals are forged, relationships are strengthened, and new opportunities are unlocked.

The event can seem daunting. Five days surrounded by hundreds of personalities from across the globe. So, I reached out to some of the incredible guests we’ve had on Identity Architects over the last 12 months to ask for their top tips on not just surviving but thriving at this prestigious festival.

Kicking things off, our most recent Identity Architect, Andrew Spurrier-Dawes, Global Head of Client and Agency Enablement at Choreograph, reminds us that while Cannes is an exciting and exhilarating event to attend for most, we all approach these situations differently:

“Cannes is a wonderful celebration of the work that we do, but people like to celebrate in different ways. Remember to look after yourself and manage your energy by pacing yourself, maintaining the right boundaries, and giving yourself time to decompress. That way, you will leave Cannes with the best memories and having built relationships on the best-shared experiences.”

While a week on the French Riviera can seem glamorous, don’t underestimate the hustle of making Cannes successful. It is, therefore, critical to plan ahead and ensure you’re maximizing your time at the event. But don’t go overboard, as Nola Solomon, SVP, Global Go-to-Market Strategy & Commercialization at Criteo, points out:

“Plan, but don’t over-plan – meetings, events, ad hoc meals, etc., will come up as you’re out and about, and that’s half the fun of it. Leave at least thirty minutes between each meeting – things will go over, and you need time to get to your other meetings or just to take a breather – it’s an intense week!”

Speaking of ad hoc meetings, Chris Kenna, Founder and CEO of BA Diversity Media, talks about the importance of being visible at Cannes:

“Turn Up to the Opening of an Envelope. Basically, be everywhere - haggle into everything. Visibility for your company, project or even passion at Cannes can give you lots of traction. So be at everything and chat with everyone.“

The meetings that take place at Cannes can shape individual businesses and our industry as a whole for the rest of the year. Deals are made, and partnerships are strengthened. But with the weather often hitting high 20C/low 80F in the South of France, what attire should one don to meet the gravitas of those meetings, with the sweltering sun? Wade Rifkin, EVP/GM, Programmatic at Clear Channel Outdoor, reminds us:

“Cannes is notorious for its heat and humidity; there are certainly some meetings and events that may warrant longer sleeves and pants, but short sleeves and shorts will get you through most of the time there. Stay cool (while looking respectable), and your trip will be much better off for it!”

And don’t forget the walking as you head from meeting to meeting and event to event. Nola Solomon adds, “Wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and shoes comfortable enough to spend 14+ hours in.”

The networking that takes place at Cannes can help not only your business for months and years to come but also your personal growth. As Ollie Shayer, Omni-Media Director at Boots UK, points out:

“Cannes Lions is the ultimate networking event. Channel your inner extrovert and chat with everyone, you never know what opportunities it may open.”

Cannes can be an opportunity to make connections that will last a career and open new possibilities for you and your business. But it's not all about selling, it's about real relationships. As Chris Kenna says, “Cannes is a fantastic place to make a relationship that you can sell to a few weeks later.  It's worked so well for me to have fun with people in Cannes and then email them a few weeks later - remind them you were singing on the beach at 2am, drinking from the bottle! They will take the meeting! Even if just to shut you up.”

If this is your first time attending Cannes, getting from spot to spot might seem overwhelming while racking up those international data charges. A quick tip from one of the InfoSum team was to use Google Maps and download an Offline Map of La Croisette and its surrounding areas. It's also worth listening to Wade Rifkin, who shared one of his priority items:

“A wireless charger (or charging case) for your phone is critical, especially if you’re staying a long walk or drive from La Croisette. There’s plenty to deal with without worrying about where to plug your phone in!”

Safe in the knowledge that you can’t easily get lost, La Croisette is an exceptional area to explore. Chris Kenna reminds us soaking in the Cannes experience means also spending time with local businesses, especially for those that might be looking to host events in the future.

“Make friends with local business owners. It means you can find a fantastic spot to host your clients or run a panel one year.  Also, they are awesome people with incredible stories.”

It's a privilege to attend an event like Cannes Lions, so ensure you soak it in. Nola Solomon says, “An early morning run along the water is both gorgeous and tees up for a good day on the go. Also, take at least one walk along La Croisette and Yacht Row and check out everyone’s spaces – get in as many as you can!” However, Ollie Shayer has an important reminder to choose your vessel carefully:

“Remember, if you get on a boat and it isn't attached to land, you can't get off, so choose carefully who you set sail with.”

Between all the meetings that will inevitably fill your diaries, there are incredible and thought-provoking events happening across La Croisette and its surrounding area. From the beaches and yachts to the villas and apartments, inspiring people will be speaking about the future of our industry. Ollie Shayer provides a fantastic piece of advice on how to maximize this opportunity:

“Cannes Lions is a treasure trove of knowledge and inspiration. Plan your schedule carefully, including time to get between events to catch the talks and workshops that resonate with you the most. And remember, sometimes, the smaller, less crowded sessions offer the biggest insights.”

Cannes might be the perfect reminder of the old saying, work hard and play hard. But it's important to pace yourself. Nola Solomon added, “Don’t drink too much Rosé before Wednesday – I know it seems like a good idea in the moment, but just don’t do it.” This seems to be a common theme, as Wade Rifkin added, “No one has ever been upset with themselves that they declined to “stop by that one last party/event” and instead went to bed early the night before…” Dora Michail-Clendinnen, Chief Strategy Officer at The Ozone Project, gave some straightforward advice to anyone attending for the first time:

“Don't end up at the Gutter Bar. Go to bed!”

It seems there are varying views of the infamous Gutter Bar, as Chris Kenna adds, “Gutter Bar! All I'm going to say is if you don't know, find out!”

To close things out, I asked my Identity Architects co-host and InfoSum COO, Lauren Wetzel, for her final tip:

“No two people experience Cannes the same way. For some, it’s about packing as many meetings into the day as possible and closing those deals that have been sitting in their pipeline for months. For others, it’s about forging new relationships through the various incredible networking events, or listening to some of the best and brightest in our industry share their predictions for the next 12 months. In the evenings, you’ll find some heading to bed at 9 PM, while others are just starting their night, aiming to attend the numerous incredible parties, and still, others that enjoy intimate dinners with friends and colleagues they only get to see at this event. The point is to make Cannes your own. Define what success means to you, and then dive right in.”
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