Here’s What You Need to Know About the First Day of Cannes Lions 2018

Is the international festival a boon, or boondoggle?

Richard Bord

Sun- and rosé-soaked marketers are congregating in this seaside resort town this week to fete the year’s best advertisements. But with all of the panels, networking events, beach takeovers, yacht parties, speedboat happy hours and swan raft meetups, it’s hardly just about the awards.

As Adweek’s managing editor, I’m here at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for the first time with eight other editors, writers and artists. Our goal? To bring the event’s insights and inspiration to life for readers back home, and to share useful tips for those of you who find yourselves navigating the Croisette. (Start with this primer on French phrases for ad wonks and a map of our editors’ favorite spots around town.)

This weekend, the scene was one of a festival rising from the sand. Carpenters sawed away at the Havas café (which has doubled in size this year), YouTube carted in beach balls by the dozens, and Twitter set up tweet-powered fans on the beach. It’s 80 degrees with 70 percent humidity, so please, tweet away! Or don’t, depending on how you feel about your co-workers in Cannes.

Is the festival a boon or boondoggle? That’s the big question on execs’ minds this year following Publicis’ bombshell announcement that it would pull out of Cannes. While the agency quietly entered work and has sent a contingent of 84 staffers, that declaration seems to have had a chilling effect. There are small, early signs the festival is reining in its excess: no swag in the welcome bag, fewer branded signs around town, fewer party invites. Although, a MediaLink staffer noted that his firm is sending a larger group than usual due to the “complicated” marketplace. One company’s complication is another’s opportunity.

An introvert’s guide to Cannes

If you’re into networking from dawn to dawn, you’re in the right place! But if not, the festival’s nonstop nature can quickly become a nightmare. Our Creativity Editor and extrovert extraordinaire David Griner compiled a survival guide for introverts like me. His best and most counterintuitive advice: Go to networking events early. You’ll meet eager beavers and avoid the intimidating task of jumping into a crowd of people mid-conversation.

I also spoke with Susan Cain, the queen of introverts and author of the best-selling book Quiet, who understands the plight all too well. A frequent keynote speaker at business conferences, she offered us her go-to survival tips:

  1. Pace yourself; make an agreement with yourself. After you’ve met a certain number of people or participated in a certain number of events, you get to go to the gym or to order room service in your hotel room with NO GUILT.
  2. Instead of trying to meet as many people as possible, focus on finding ‘kindred spirits’ whom you genuinely like and want to keep in touch with.
  3. In networking events, shift to a hosting mindset. Instead of ‘I must impress this person’, try: ‘How can I make this person feel comfortable?’”

The hosting mindset has transformed my outlook on everything from cocktail parties to panel moderating. Give it a go at the Y&R dinner party tonight.

What caught our eye

A hot dog bar in Cannes has one of the more clever ads in town. Social editor Sami Main couldn’t resist snapping her pic in front of this mirrored, Instagram-inspired wall by Marley’s Cannes. The idea originated with French graffiti artist @encoreunestp (which translates to “one more, please”), who creates similar, cheeky installations around Paris. Copycat or not, it’s a smart way for a food stand with 550 followers to drum up foot and web traffic.

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