An Introvert’s Guide to Cannes

6 tips to make the most of the Lions at your own pace

The Cannes Lions is advertising's most scenic festival, but it can also be an overwhelming experience.
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Even for the most social of attendees, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity can be a nerve-jangling sensory overload.

For introverts—or anyone who just get understandably overwhelmed by a festival largely dedicated to nonstop networking—Cannes can quickly turn from a sunny Mediterranean escape to a gorgeous gulag of anxiety and annoyance.

Sure, you can go back to the solace of your apartment, but that’s not always a restful option either, and chances are you’ll soon feel guilty for wasting your company’s T&E dollars.

So Adweek has compiled a few tips to help the introverts and occasionally exhausted social gadflies alike enjoy Cannes as much as your Instagram followers think you do.

1. Schedule time to exercise in the mornings

If you’re a runner, I don’t have to tell you how head-clearing an enjoyable a run down the Croisette can be in the morning (which, in Cannes, qualifies as just about any hour before 11 a.m.).

But even for those of us who don’t identify as the outdoorsy type, an hour or so of morning exercise can make all the difference between enjoying your day at Cannes versus feeling like you just rolled aching out of bed and lobbed yourself right into the belly of the festival beast.

Check the schedule for official exercise opportunities, but ask around as well. Companies like Havas and Google often host yoga or other opportunities that aren’t on the official Cannes agenda.

The best thing about group exercise opportunities in the morning is that you’re technically being social, but no one has to talk to each other. And when you’re lying in shavasana, feeling the sun on your closed eyes and listening to the muddled sound of birds and multilingual conversations, you might actually remember that Cannes can be a pretty fantastic place to spend a weekday.

2. Actually spend time in the Palais

Unless they’re on stage, you won’t find too many Cannes Lions veterans in the Palais, the festival’s main venue for presentations and indoor activations. Most remain camped at their hotels or rented workspaces, letting the meetings come to them.

There are two big mistakes with that approach: For one, you miss the programming, which is often spectacular and unparalleled at any event you’re likely to attend in a given year. Inspiring talks, compelling case studies, emerging ideas that might change your whole approach to your job—it’s all there, and you just have to pick the right ones for you.

But the other mistake is that you miss the work. The Palais’ lower level is largely devoted to the work being considered for Lions, basically turning it into the MOMA for marketing nerds.

Reviewing the year's work at the Palais can be a nice break from the noise.
Courtesy of Cannes Lions

“Whether you’re an introvert or just need a respite from the overstimulation of Cannes,” says Tonise Paul, president and CEO of Energy BBDO, “head to the Palais, walk down the stairs, hop on a stool, slip on a set of headphones and immerse for an hour with an iPad loaded with case studies of the world’s most awarded work. Ahhhh.”

Ari Halper, chief creative officer of FCB New York, agrees this can be one of the most re-energizing ways to enjoy the festival.

“My advice would be to hit the Print and Outdoor early in the morning, right when it first opens,” Halper says. “Everyone sleeps in at Cannes until at least 11 a.m.—except the juries—so you’ll have the place to yourself.”

3. Going to an event? Show up early

Here’s one of the best pieces of advice for networking events: Show up early.

It’s a bit counterintuitive, since it can feel like you’re a bit more on display when you arrive during the relatively quieter opening minutes of a reception, dinner or party.