Divergent Perspectives on Cannes: The Newbie and the Veteran

Cannes Newbie’s #1 Concern: The Fashions
By Michael Maldonado

Zut alors!! I “Cannes” NOT believe I’ll be heading to Cannes in a matter of days. I’ve known about this trip for months, after winning a contest at Ketchum to earn my trip, I and somehow feel like I’m totally unprepared for how incredible the experience will be.

While I am a Cannes “newbie,” this is not my first rodeo. I’ve gotten my share of passport stamps (including France), took a semester of French about a decade ago and went on a date recently with a French guy who took me to the closest thing Dallas has to a French bistro.

Regarding the festival, here are my main concerns:

1. Fashions
But seriously, I’ll be meeting a lot of Ketchumites for the first time – many of them from fashion capitals like New York and London. Not to mention all the people I’ll meet through networking. My ensemble game needs to be on point. If it’s not très chic, then I’m not packing it. I was considering a beret, but I feel like no one famous has really rocked a beret since the late 1990s.

I’m confident that the more seasoned Cannes veterans will help me navigate the best panels and events, but I’m so nervous that I’ll miss something utterly fabulous because I’ll be overwhelmed and under-educated. I’m really just hoping for at least one celebrity sighting.

3. Fuel
I’m usually ‘round-the-clock bubbly and energetic, but I’m told Cannes is even bigger than SXSW, which I barely survived. And I was only there for three days! I don’t drink coffee, but I may start next week.

4. Fulfillment
From making new connections to taking in all the information at panels, Cannes is rich with opportunities to grow professionally – even in a week’s time (click to tweet). I’ll have to turn on the charm, stay alert 24/7 and write down everything I possibly can. Cue flashbacks to my first PR internship!

All of that said, I’m looking forward to meeting, tweeting and eating my way through the Cannes Lions Festival, and I’m beyond thankful to Ketchum for giving me this opportunity. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@texastimbits) as I document my adventure with hilarious GIFs. Au revoir!!!



Prepare sunscreen, open minds and protect the liver
By Gabriel Araujo

Writing this article as an experienced Cannes attendee, I will offer Michael – and any other Cannes newbies – some advice in five easy steps.

1. Status and shopping
When you tell your friends and co-workers you have an important business trip in the south of France – in “Kanis,” as Brazilians say it – this brings status, dude. But be careful not to let it go to your head. I won’t be surprised to pass you heading back to the hotel carrying almost the entire Rue D’Antibes in bags full of stuff from the hottest retailers. Try to not to get distracted and miss out on the best speakers in the world or, even worse, lose out on a free rosé and amazing gossip at the Google cabana, just because you’re too busy buying underwear.

2. Party time
Being at Cannes is an opportunity to celebrate (possibly a bit too much) the world of advertising and creativity. The town is in an uproar, with more than 12,000 people speaking about the same topics with the same anxieties, pretending to understand everything going on without understanding anything – just like you! It’s like a high-school party, with everyone seeking the approval that comes with belonging, and the chance of basking in the brightness of stars. Cannes is a lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun, and I can guarantee it will change you.

3. Networking
At Cannes, there is a seductive fantasy that, warmed by the toasty sun, our stomachs full of escargot, we will eventually sit down at a table with Martin Sorrell, David Droga or a few of the big-name celebrities who were invited to spice up the agenda. This never happens, but it’s still a sociable place. Talk with everybody you can – you will find great friends and inspiring people. Last year, I went out to dinner and found myself at a table with the Global CCO of Forsman Bodenfors, the Middle East CCO of Ogilvy, the Canadian CCO of Grey and my friend the CCO of VML Brazil. And this, my friend, happens all the time. Try to absorb everything each of these people has to say – but understand that they drink a lot, so don’t take anything too seriously.

4. Inspire yourself with the work
You can argue that the world’s best projects are on the Web at any time, but when you’re surfing around you never take the time to bathe in all the new ideas completely. In Cannes, however, you are completely immersed in inspiration wherever you go. But drowning in the best work of the past year takes time and perseverance. You can pore over the exhibits in the basement of the Palais, displayed on computers or posters in a big, open room – but the enemies of this phenomenal immersion are the sun, the beach, the boardwalk beauties, the parties, the drinks, the shopping and the atmosphere of fame. Some people have been to Cannes dozens of times and don’t know where the work is. Seek it out; it’s awesome.

5. Inspire yourself with the lectures
Beware of the talks – they can make you sleepy. (Especially with a head full of rosé, air-conditioning, half-light and monotonous speakers.) Ninety percent of what is discussed is the obvious – another eight percent is self-promotion. The great value of these moments is to sit next to a client and follow their responses to the session. I’ve never met a client at Cannes who didn’t return to approve edgy projects and go on to create briefs with the words “surprise me” and “change the world” sprinkled everywhere (click to tweet). And yes, that final two percent of the lecture content will blow your mind and make you feel like a complete, incompetent moron. So when you come back to your office, you will start fresh and make your work 100 times better than it used to be.

See you soon!