Gustaf Stenlund
Gustaf Stenlund
July 13, 2017

Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2017 has now passed us by and we wanted to share our key learnings.

Ben Young, our CEO & Founder has previous to this made notes about key takeaways from the festival from a native advertising perspective, which you can find here.

We were there from Sunday to Wednesday, went along to interesting talks, had an award entry, but were primarily at Innovation Lions to do business, build relationships, meet new people and share learnings. On top of this, we of course went to Cannes Lions to have fun – some attendees kept going until dawn but we decided against that, and were thus able to have meetings in the morning, which we found to be a winning formula for us.

Note: Prepare for the ‘Cannes 15 minute meeting’…

…You’ll have more of these than you expect, but you’ll appreciate everyone single one of them, as the quality of the conversations is consistently high.

Here are the things to consider before going to Cannes Lions 2018.

Things that were really good

  • The beach, having cafes and cabanas, i.e. The Economist had some amazing panel discussions on the beach. These places were great for meetups and for bumping into interesting people.
  • Everyone had sunblock (although there were, as always, some suffering from the all too familiar, bittersweet burn!), and happy to share.
  • Roundtables were really good. Here they shared a perspective/topic and then encouraged people in the audience to help participate and start discussions. This introduced us to new people.
  • Lots of opportunities for food & drinks.
    • ^Little point, sometimes you do conferences and the food that is available is just rubbish, whereas the food at Cannes was fairly good and healthy.
  • The quality of the conversations were really high, mainly due to the seniority of the people you were talking to.
  • The festival area was condensed, in a good way, allowing for meetings to be stacked closely together. It also meant you bumped into people you knew/you’d been trying to start a conversation with for a long time.

What could the festival do to improve?

  • Having maps around, even though the area is condensed it all looks similar which can be a hassle if your next meeting is looming. The app included a map but wasn’t all that intuitive.
  • The wifi was pretty slow.
  • More coffee, more coffee, more coffee!
  • The Discovery pass worked well for us, but the organizers have to better communicate what you will get with your pass as we were left feeling disappointed on a couple of occasions.

What did we do right?

  • Picked one key thing per day and made the most of it. We tried not to dilute our main objective by overcommitting ourselves.
  • Balanced water & rosé (or frosé for that matter!).
  • Stayed out of town to avoid some of the madness, which worked well.
  • Kept business in mind, we were there to build networks & relationships, share knowledge & learnings, and get people excited about Nudge.
  • Left flexibility to meet people on the fly.
  • Our half day Sunday, Monday/Tuesday, then half day Wednesday felt good – having time to talk strategy / review pre-festival was great.
  • Sunday is a good day to be there as the top guys won’t be as booked up as on other days, meaning you can coordinate a cheeky meet.
  • Left it open to serendipity, shared with people where we were.
  • It was nice not being more than two people, otherwise it risks getting a bit too diluted, two groups of two, purposely.
  • The danger of a bigger group is that you end up only hanging out with each other.
  • Good shoes – we cannot stress this enough.
  • Having a car was handy.

What would we do differently next year?

  • Park up at a cafe/restaurant and invite people to join us, or set meetings up there. The best day for this would be on the Wednesday, as people are starting to slow down.
  • Teaming up with others to have a Cabana.
  • It’s cheesy but having something that others can identify us by, maybe some kind of geer. Neustar did this well by handing out branded quality products in conjunction with their sponsored WSJ breakfast panel.
  • Doing an interview series, or hosting some panels.
  • Renting a Moke/Tandem bike – branding it up.
  • Book earlier and draft a clear plan, get in touch with people we met with last year to reconnect. Knowing what we know now will allow us come better prepared.

Where to stay?

  • Everyone says to stay downtown, but we found that staying in Golfe-Juan was a solid option, 5-6 minutes on the train and Ubers only cost €15 – dead easy.
  • It was nice and quiet when you were out of the centre, but also handy to have like team offsites etc.
  • And, some of the places are nicer / get more bang for your buck.
  • Visiting Eden Roc, is a must, expensive but beautiful.

What should people bring?

  • Chargers.
  • A satchel.
  • Sunblock, just in case.
  • Water.
  • Just the obvious really, most things can be found at the festival.


Are you reading this and heading along to Cannes? Send us a note if you’d like to catch up.