All Roads Lead To Cannes

“Are you going to Cannes this year?” A question I’ve been asked on numerous occasions in the past few weeks as the advertising world gears up for Cannes Lions, one of our industry’s largest global media festivals. The question itself isn’t a surprising one, but the fact it’s now being asked from all corners of the ecosystem certainly is. Historically, Cannes has been the Mad Men playground, a place to celebrate the Crème de la Crème of the creative world. While this still rings true, Cannes Lions has evolved into a very different beast in recent years.


From just over 100 entries in its inaugural year in 1954 to a staggering 37,000 this year, Cannes Lions isn’t just evolving, it’s thriving. New award categories, an ever growing delegate list and a vast speaker programme of over 500 experts from the worlds of creative, tech, business, fashion, entertainment and celebrity…the list goes on. The Cyber Lions, which encompasses all things digital, has seen a 40% increase on entries from last year alone. And it’s not just the volume of awards and categories that have increased, but also the diversity of delegates and partners.


As an official partner of Cannes Lions 2014, Videology is one of a number of technology companies involved in this year’s festival; a trend the organisers are keen to encourage. Enter the Math Men.


We sat down with Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions recently during the filming of our “Road to Cannes” series. He shared with us his excitement around the sheer number of technology and data companies flocking to Cannes this year, which he says has sparked interest from Silicon Valley and the Venture Capitalist crowd. This is an audience that hasn’t been present in previous years, proving just how much technology companies are embedding themselves within the marketing community and embracing the pivotal role they now play within today’s ecosystem. Last year, the festival officially welcomed this new breed of attendees by introducing the Innovation Lions, an award category that celebrates new technologies and acknowledges their importance in enabling agencies to further enhance their creative work.


So what can first-time ad technologists expect from Cannes Lions?


Firstly, it’s important to understand that Cannes is still predominantly a place for sharing, learning and acknowledging those producing outstanding creative work. While conversations about algorithms and analytics do take place (and increasingly so), they’re very much discussed from the viewpoint of the creative and media agencies, meaning technological jargon can be met with confusion. That said, technology is most certainly on the agenda and becoming more of a focus for the traditionally creative crowd. There are dozens of speaker sessions with technology and innovation at their core; however nowhere is this more evident than the keynote from Neil Harrison, the world’s first human cyborg. Well worth checking out.


It’s perfectly normal for first-time attendees to feel overwhelmed by Cannes Lions, I know I certainly did my first year. The festival programme is vast, with hundreds of sessions and speakers to choose from…and that’s before you’ve factored in the awards shows, exhibitions, galas, parties and festival offshoots that run throughout the week.


Below are a couple of top tips for making the most of your time in Cannes:


  • Check out the “How to Cannes” page on the Cannes Lions website for tonnes of great advice to get you started.
  • The festival guide and daily newspapers are jam-packed full of information to help you make sense of what’s on offer, so make sure you pick up a copy.
  • Use Cannes Connect via the festival website to book meetings in advance. People’s schedules fill up fast, so plan ahead.
  • Attend the speaker sessions that interest you, but don’t spend all of your time inside. Most of the action takes place outside, on the beach, in the cabanas, cafes and hotel bars along the Croisette (Cannes’ main promenade). Make sure you enjoy the sunshine, but always remember to wear sunscreen. As a fair-skinned Scotsman, I learned that one the hard way.
  • Be open to conversations with new and interesting people. Cannes is full of them, from all areas of our industry, so make time to network, you never know where it could lead (hopefully to an invitation to one of the many hot parties planned throughout the week)! The Cannes Connect Bar, located on the terrace of the Palais des Festivals, is the perfect location for networking. They host daily drinks from 5.30pm to 7pm with a view of the setting sun over the Mediterranean Sea, well worth checking out.
  • Catch up with your contacts and colleagues from the other side of the world. It’s rare to have them all in one place at the same time, so make the most of it.
  • Establish a daily base. Why not drop by the Videology beach cabana, located directly outside the Palais des Festivals? Grab a drink at the bar, plug in, connect to our free wifi and kick back in the sun on our wrap-around terrace. We’ve created the perfect environment for catching up on work, meeting with clients or just making the most of your days at Cannes Lions.


For more information or to connect with the Videology team in Cannes, visit

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