Can’t Do Cannes This Year? You’ll Still Inspire FOMO With ‘Cannesfaker’

Mock campaign highlights social media addiction

It's a timely extension of a older mental health campaign. Sanctus
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

CANNES, Frances—You may have heard rumors that attendance at this year’s Cannes Lions Festival is down—and that’s not just because of all the Publicis employees who had other places to be.

Fear not, ad pros. If you’re absent from the festival but still every bit as eager for peer approval, you can pretend to be enjoying the sights, sounds and panels of southern France thanks to a tidy new tool called Cannesfaker, which provides all the content you need to show the folks back home that you’ve finally made it.

But wait … there just might be a catch.

All parties visiting the website in the interest of purchasing professional-grade “hungover breakfast” or #carltonterrace images to pad the old Instagram account will be redirected to Sanctus, a mental health startup claiming that 62 percent of people “feel inadequate” when comparing themselves to others online.

Turns out Cannesfaker is a clever and timely extension of Lifefaker, a campaign created by AMV BBDO and launched earlier this year to promote Sanctus, “the world’s first mental health gym.”

As Sanctus founder James Routledge explains, “ is a fictitious website where you can purchase social media packages to create a veneered filter of your life to present to others.” The packages often play on themes such as “I Own All the Things,” “My Unachievable Body” and “I Can Be Arty and Deep.”

The concept is light, but the problem is hardly a joke.

“With, our goal was to use parody to highlight some of those unhealthy behaviors we all know exist on social media,” Routledge wrote. “Whilst it’s unfair to blame social media completely for poor mental health, there’s a clear link and we only need to look inwards to know there have likely been times when we’ve either been mindlessly scrolling, we’ve felt ourselves comparing ourselves to others or a social media post has triggered something for us.”

Multiple studies have, in fact, tied the use of social media to anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns, with this correlation particularly extreme among those who use social media most frequently.

The purpose of the “Cannesfaker” campaign is not to shame those users but, rather, to encourage them to talk about the matter and seek help if they need it.

And for the record, many of those “fake” hashtags are very real. #yachts

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.