Cannes reminds us we work in a great industry

CANNES, FRANCE: A long week of celebration, inspiration, networking, soul searching, navel gazing, and pure enjoyment is coming to an end on the French Riviera in Cannes.

CANNES, FRANCE: A long week of celebration, inspiration, networking, soul searching, navel gazing, and pure enjoyment is coming to an end on the French Riviera in Cannes.

As our guest blogger Allison Cohen from Hill+Knowlton Strategies pointed out yesterday, New York City can be a bubble we get caught up in sometimes, to the detriment of considering everything else out there in the USA – and the rest of the world.

Similarly, Cannes is a big bubble of highly concentrated hyperbole, exaggeration, a real sense of the global, sales pitches, and more than a little BS. But it is also a wonderful distillation of creativity and ideas that can fuel those lucky enough to attend with inspiration for months afterwards.

The inspiration can strike in a number of ways, whether it is listening to punk princess and pop diva Debbie Harry singing during her session today, basking in the tumescent glow that seems to follow around former US President Bill Clinton – one of the highlights of yesterday's program – or simply being exposed to some of the hottest start-ups and creative types on the marketing scene.

Couple that with the chance to bump into the likes of a relaxed looking WPP CEO Martin Sorrell on La Croisette on a sunny summer's morning when he has just announced the purchase of one of the last remaining digital agency giants – AKQA. Or to hang out with your clients in a businesslike but idyllic setting and cement those crucial relationships, to network with inspired and engaged peers from every part of the globe, or just to hunt for a new job (we know you're all at it on both sides of the equation) – it's a worthwhile way to spend a few days away from the daily grind.

So let's for a moment put aside our disappointment at the performance of the mainstream PR sector in the awards on Monday night and look for the positive inspiration that will drive our industry forward over the next 12 months.

If there's one thing everyone can take away from the Cannes experience this year, it is that we are working in a tremendously creative industry on the cutting edge of communications and ideas that are genuinely changing the worlds of business, politics, art, and culture – and that's not a bad place to end the week.

Top Tips for Surviving Cannes

For those thinking of attending Cannes next year, here are a few practical tips garnered from hard-learned experience this week:

  1. Plan your trip well in advance, from booking flights and accommodation, to fixing meetings, to scheduling your days. Being close to La Croisette can be just as important as the quality of your room - you won't be spending much time there anyway. 
  2. The time flies by in Cannes and you must incorporate room to catch up on your email/day job and simply re-energize and refuel.
  3. Be ambitious - many of the top CEOs and senior executives are in situ in a relaxed frame of mind. Go up and say hello.
  4. Download the Cannes app. It's excellent and essential for planning your day.
  5. If you're going to check out the phenomenon that is The Gutter Bar in full effect - there are typically still 6-700 people going strong at 4am every morning - don't book an early breakfast meeting for the next day.
  6. Enjoy it - these are the times of your life. Drinking a glass of Domaines Ott while looking out into the bay off Cannes harbour reminds you that this is not a bad industry to be part of.

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