Heat Employees Who Weren’t Invited to Cannes Threw Their Own Rosé-Filled Party

An exercise in building culture

After winning its first Lion at Cannes last year, and making a big first impression, Heat San Francisco was ready to send its agency full-force to the creative festival this year.

Not everyone could go though, but that didn't get the SF team down. Instead of sitting back and feeling bad about it, the agency decided to throw its very own Cannes-inspired event, titled Heat Cannes Francisco. The event had everything from keynote speakers, which included everyone from agency higher-ups to the new strategy intern, and bottles of rosé and champagne.

While the event was designed to keep spirits high throughout the week, Heat said it was also a great culture building exercise, especially considering the large number of new hires at the agency.

"It was really just doing something fun and creative for each other, which is important. I hope we continue to think of these things as we go. What we realized is that it's easier than you think it is. You pull together a small budget and you get a big team involved and all of sudden it felt like this big show we put on in 48 hours essentially," Lauren Underhill Sooudi, senior brand strategist at Heat, told Adweek.

Heat is also in the process of opening up a New York office, following news that Deloitte Digital would be acquiring the agency. Senior art director Sally Hastings said office events like Heat Cannes Francisco really help an agency like Heat build its culture and bring employees together especially in times of growth and change. 

To make the event as authentic as possible, the agency ordered some dog statues off of Amazon and had the office manager spray paint them gold as soon as they arrived, giving them that fresh Gold Lion feel. It went with dogs over lions because, as Hastings said, "they're man's best friend and Heat's necessity. Sometimes there are as many dogs here as people."

While the statues weren't as heavy, they managed to do the job. Recipients of the awards—which ranged from 'Hardest-Working Heat Employee' to 'Best Office Dog'—enjoyed posing with them on the agency's makeshift red carpet. 

"We wanted to bring a flavor of what some of the Heaters were enjoying in the South of France. We got the studio to print out a backdrop of the Croisette beach and got some photos of us, rosé in hand … we could have really been there," Hastings said.

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