From being offered my slot to attend and represent AIP on the Thursday before, and touching down in Cannes on the Tuesday – it’s safe to say I wasn’t especially prepared – or entirely sure what to expect – from the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2022. You hear of the heat, the parties and the extravagance. And all those things were there. (Along with a fair bit of rain, before you think it was all non-stop glamour.)
But the factor that stuck with me the most was the people.
Being fairly new to the creative industries, and by my reckoning the youngest person on the Dept of International Trade and Ad Association’s trade mission, I wanted to grab every opportunity I could. There was a slight apprehension that because of my age, and my gender, I may be brushed off, or not taken seriously. But I am happy to say I was massively wrong.
The Lions showed me a festival committed to using its inherent privilege constructively. I spoke to and (not too forcibly I hope) connected with everyone I met, with the main aim to understand where they were coming from, and soak up as much thinking about ad land as I could.
The kindness and camaraderie people from every level extended to me was astounding. Even whilst giving me advice that I had freely asked for, people apologised and hoped they weren’t being condescending. They weren’t. But talk about checking your privilege.
I learnt a lot. But here are my Three Ps – the best nuggets of wisdom I held close from across the week’s the countless conversations:
“It’s okay to go off-script. If you’ve lost the room – pause, stop and ask them a question. Don’t read off the slides. You’re the presentation. They’re your support.”
“Take every opportunity. But set your boundaries.”
“Think every day, ‘What have I done today to be inclusive in my work?'”
Continuing along with my fourth P – the theme of People – and one observation that struck me was that the organised parties and presentations, whilst having long lines at the entrance, weren’t massively overpacked when you got inside. However, as you strolled along the Croisette, there were countless pockets of industry people sharing personal dinners and drinks, over-subscribed, adding extra chairs to tiny tables.
After so many virtual events in the last few years, people are desperate to connect one-on-one with each other. This is why people really come to festivals: to meet, learn and cook up award-winning ideas.
This need for reconnection was echoed throughout most events I saw. There was a repeated emphasis on regaining some of the authentic, inspiring and essential human discussions that enable creative thinking and ultimately creative effectiveness.
Cannes Lions 2022 has completely changed my way of thinking about this industry. I’m truly honoured to have had this opportunity so early on.
But the main takeaway I’m bringing forward is to ask, meet and talk to everyone (!) You never know who they may be. Or who they may know. Or most importantly what they have done – or are planning to do next. When you go to the right place, you discover that learning is everywhere.
So I’m prety excited about where to go for my next learning experience…
[Pic – me and my fab festival buddy, the Ad Association’s midsummer queen Aisling Conlon 💚]