What 2 Young Creatives Learned During Their First Trip to Cannes

A pair of Young Lions on awards, sexism and doing great work

Each year at the Cannes Lions festival a group of creatives under the age of 30 from all around the world are invited to attend and participate in the Young Lions Competition. A winning entry in one of the seven categories gives creatives a pair of tickets to the festival and a chance to compete in a second round of the competition. The Young Lions are given a brief and 24 hours to create a brilliant creative idea.  

This year a duo from Deutsch's New York office, Lauren Cooper and Erika Kohnen, had the opportunity to attend the festival after their entry into the print competition for non-profit Variety was selected as the U.S. Print winner. Cooper and Kohnen arrived in Cannes, and while their 24 hour brief did not win them a Young Lions, the duo managed to leave the week with three Lions (one bronze, one silver and one titanium).  

Adweek caught up with the duo a week after the festivities to discuss what it's like being a young creative at one of the industry's biggest events of the year, why sexism is still very much apparent and what it was like walking on stage to accept their very first Lion.

Adweek: Looking back, how would you say your first Cannes experience went?

Kohnen: It was cool to meet all the people from the other countries that won. Even being at Cannes, that was a big thing just to meet super talented people from all over the world …

Cooper: Especially meeting people who are young, because it's really unusual to meet juniors who are in Cannes, so to meet all these people who are under 30 and otherwise probably wouldn't have been able to go, it's really nice.

How did you prepare for the week?

Cooper: There's just no solid way to prepare. The Young Lions competition started the Saturday before everyone gets there. We were there for an unusually long amount of time. We were there for 10 days, most people go for four or five.

Kohnen: We did everything too, from going to some really good talks, to seeing all the work, to parties to meeting people. I think we definitely had a full experience.

Cooper: The one thing we did every day was go down and look at the short lists. Every morning they post all the short lists for the day so we spent at least a solid two hours every day there.

How do you think having this experience so early in your career will benefit you both in the long run?

Kohnen: It's nice in some ways to see what's possible. It makes you think about how far you can go yourself and the kind of work you want to do.

Cooper: I think it's also interesting that there are several things we saw that were based on the same insight, but went in different directions and both won. We did a lot of talking about how it's possible to land on one insight. That's one thing we're afraid of all the time. One of our ideas that we were super excited about before Cannes we saw in Cannes. We just came back and killed it on Monday.

It's a thing though. You're always afraid that someone is going to have your idea and there's this rush to produce work that's great before anybody else thinks of it. We saw several things based on the same insight, both were great and both were still awarded. It's not a crime to have the same insight, but you can have a zillion great executions.

How do you deal with that concern when you're new to the industry?

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