Ad Tech Spends Big to Hire Yachts at Cannes Lions, but It’s Still a Bargain

Turns out you can make a splash without going overboard

Renting a luxury boat can actually save you money. 
Elias Stein

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is advertising’s flagship event, with the official attendee numbers suggesting that 16,000 of the great and the good from the industry make the annual pilgrimage to the chic resort.

Per travel data firm Adara, U.S. travelers from New York and San Francisco will be some of the most well-represented during the weeklong festival hosted in the southern French city’s Palais des Festivals—a sure sign of the opportunity to make a big impression on the global stage.

Veteran attendees will know that Le Jetée Albert Edouard is the prime real estate where the industry’s canniest marketers want their yachts moored. Most notably, those in ad tech–arguably those whose employers have a tenuous relationship with the creative element of the industry.

According to sources, up until a number of years ago, executives moored company-branded yachts in this site to house staff, host meetings and throw parties while forgoing the steep costs associated with bar tabs along La Croisette. In the process, they could rub shoulders with conference delegates while avoiding the thousands of dollars it costs for an official pass to the fest.

Then Cannes Lions organizer Ascential grew wise and started offering “a prime yacht location” as part of its official packages. In 2019, an official yacht pass will put a 25,750 euros ($28,726) dent (plus tax) in your marketing budget. But sources maintain the cost is still worth it.

Once you factor in the price of hotel rooms (which universally soar during the week in question*), a meeting room or a suite, and a party venue (before food, drinks and service charges), the cost of a week in Cannes can really add up.

One ad-tech source with several years of Cannes experience under his belt told Adweek that to make a real splash and tick all of the above boxes, a yacht rental plus crew can cost in the region of 200,000 euros ($223,000) for the week. Suddenly, the yacht pass looks like a bargain.

The fact is that despite the ostentatious optics, renting a luxury boat can actually save you money.

This story first appeared in the June 17, 2019, issue of Brandweek.

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