10 things not to miss at Cannes Lions - and top tips for the week

PRWeek UK runs down the 10 must-see sessions at this year's Cannes Lions festival, which begins on Saturday - and an experienced Lionsgoer gives his top dos and dont's for the jamboree.

(Credits: Will Smith: Rex_Shutterstock, Ban Ki-moon: Dana Press Photos/PA Images)
(Credits: Will Smith: Rex_Shutterstock, Ban Ki-moon: Dana Press Photos/PA Images)

10 things not to miss at the Cannes Lions 2016

PRWeek takes a look at some must-attend sessions that are taking place in Cannes this year, and how to survive the festival – and the parties – in style.

1 Fresh Prince hits Cannes 

The superstar actor/rapper talks to Edelman’s global creative strategy chair Jackie Cooper about his approach to creativity. Expect a big crowd for Big Willie, so arrive early.

Where: Lumiere Theatre, 11am, Tuesday 21 June

2 The sex session 

Do marketeers ignore the lure of sex? That’s the controversial theme for the panel session Sex: the Final Frontier (when Foresight meets Foreplay), hosted by Flamingo and featuring Cindy Gallop, founder and CEO of the website MakeLoveNotPorn, and BBC journalist and filmmaker Mobeen Azhar.

Where: Forum, 1.45pm, Sunday 19 June

3 Insight from the top 

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s keynote presentation shouldn’t be missed for those staying until Friday. The title isn’t available at the time of writing.

Where: Lumiere Theatre, 12pm, Friday 24 June

4 Content for the kids 

Filmmaker Spike Jonze and Vice CEO and founder Shane Smith discuss the importance of making content young people care about.

Where: Lumiere Theatre, 5pm, Thursday 23 June

5 Go childish 

Talking of young people, apparently our ability to think laterally all but disappears with age. Inspired by a month in a primary school, Exposure’s Laura Jones and Pete Jackson discuss how employing ‘childish’ techniques has helped unlock the creativity behind campaigns for brands such as Heineken and Microsoft.

Where: Forum, 1.15pm, Thursday 23 June

6 Film of the future 

Film director Adam Carolla and Peter Horst of Hershey’s take part in a staged discussion about producing a brand-funded feature film, in a session hosted by Ketchum Sports & Entertainment.

Where: Forum, 5.30pm, Monday 20 June

7 Return of the stunt 

Taylor Herring’s James Herring and Pete Mountstevens discuss why stunt marketing works where traditional ads fail. Featuring the star of the agency’s recent campaign for Sky’s Fortitude: a full-size adult polar bear (of sorts). Expect the air conditioning on full blast.

Where: Debussy Theatre, 1pm, Saturday 18 June

8 Stone session 

There’s more Hollywood glamour on Wednesday when Oliver Stone – the Oscar-winning brain behind Platoon, Born on the Fourth of July and JFK – will talk about filmmaking, politics and culture with Caspar Llewellyn Smith, editor of The Guardian’s digital platforms.

Where: Lumiere Theatre, 2pm, Wednesday 22 June

9 Brand purpose 

Edelman CEO Richard Edelman is joined by Aline Santos, Unilever’s senior VP, global marketing, and international adviser on education Sir Ken Robinson to discuss how brands can move consumers from passive followers to mobilised activists.

Where: Forum, 1.45pm, Wednesday 22 June

10 Why is it good if your client hates your ideas? 

Tom Beckman, chairman of Weber Shandwick’s Creative Collective, reveals all.

Where: Forum, 3.15pm, Tuesday 21 June.

Cannes Lions Dos and Don’ts

By James Herring, managing partner, Taylor Herring


Prepare to be inspired – the world’s greatest creative minds will be sharing their wisdom

Download the festival app – makes navigating the week much easier

Be spontaneous – the best treats are stumbling into unexpectedly brilliant events 

Collect as many wristbands as possible - the more wristbands you have, the more important you are

Take some time out from the Palais and visit Google’s brilliant beach bar

Take a spare phone for when you leave yours in the Uber from the airport

Bring a portable phone charger – there is nothing more frustrating than a dead phone

Expect to do a lot of walking 

Visit the Gutter Bar – the ad fest’s most famous watering hole where the drinking goes on until sunrise

Shamelessly demand a selfie with that Hollywood star

Wear sunscreen


Attempt to hard-sell your services – it’s not that kind of conference

Arrive late – popular sessions fill fast; 15 minutes early is a good idea

Over-pack – daytime dress code is pretty much ‘beach casual’

Overfill your schedule – make time to peruse the thousands of inspiring competition entries in the basement

Attempt to live tweet every session - you’ll miss half of what’s being said

Attempt to deal with stuff that is going on back at the office

Be surprised that a bottle of rosé can cost up to £50 in some hotel bars

Expect to get much sleep

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

18-25 June 2016

Key dates for your diary

Lions Health 18-19 June

Lions Innovation 21-22 June

PR Lions announced 21 June (evening)

Lions Entertainment 23-24 June

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in