Getting ready for your first Cannes Lions?

by Gabriela Lungu, integrated creative director & Cannes Lions veteran

gabriela lungu




Congratulations! Your firm is sending you to Cannes Lions!  It’s the most important International Festival of Creativity for the Marcom industry, so you should be very proud that you were chosen (the pass for the festival, plus the transport, the accommodation and other expenses, are quite a significant investment for any company; and yours is investing in you!).

The best thing to do now is to make the most out of this awesome experience. But the truth is that going to Cannes Lions for the first time can be quite intimidating.

This is no small event. It’s one who practically takes over an entire city for a full week. Huge main venue, and many other smaller ones. 12,000 people attending. Lots of things, all very interesting, happening in parallel. Amazing superstars, from the industry and beyond, to see and meet at the different gatherings – some official and some not so official. And all the temptations of the French Riviera at walking distance. What to choose? How to make sure you’re not missing out?

As a Cannes Lions veteran, I’m asked lots of questions every year.

Here are my top 7 tips:

  1. Download the official Cannes Lions App. This app is your best friend. Read what’s happening at this year’s edition and start planning. Decide who you want to see, where you want to go and put together a personalized agenda. Make a plan A, but also a plan B. You’ll have to be flexible to fully enjoy the week
  2. When you get there, take the official “HOW TO CANNES DAILY TOUR” to find your way around the Festival’s main venue, Le Palais des Festivals. After you know your Grand Audi from your Debussy, you’ll instantly feel more confident.
  3. From the Palais, take a walk on the Croisette and maybe even a little sightseeing tour around Cannes. Remember where the biggest hotels (especially Majestic, Carlton and Martinez) and the beaches are. Many events, especially the evening ones, are happening outside the Palais, in one of these locations.
  4. Keep in mind that you’ll be one of the 12,000 people who come to be inspired at Cannes Lions. If a seminar sounds very interesting to you, chances are the other 11,999 people will think the same. If you really want to be in the same room with an inspiring speaker, make sure you are in that room really early (with 2-3 hours in advance) and you don’t leave it. Not even for bathroom breaks.
  5. If you can’t get in for one of the big seminars, don’t be disappointed. Go to a workshop instead. Many times, the most valuable and practical information are shared in the smaller sessions.
  6. Go to the parties you’re invited to. There are amazing networking opportunities. Go to the after-parties too; there are many planned and unplanned ones all over the city. Enjoy the rosé (they call it ‘the Festival’s water’). But make sure you’re up and running again early in the morning. There must be parties all the time where you’re coming from; but there’s only one Cannes Lions Festival every year.
  7. Go to The House of PR (Grand Palais Beach, Cabana 11), a fun and comfortable meeting space for the PR community. Get involved with the scheduled activities from Monday 22nd June to Wednesday 24th June, from 9am till 6pm. Throughout the festival the House of PR will play host to interviews, live streaming and much more. Look out for the live updates – twitter: @ICCOpr, #WELOVEPR.

Of course, the most important thing is to… relax. If you ever feel confused, remember that even the smug veterans had their first Cannes Lions once. Enjoy it to the maximum, let yourself be inspired, and then share this inspiration with your colleagues back home.

See you there!