CANNES — Bonjour from the 2015 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity!
It’s Day One for this Cannes rookie, and I’m checking in to report my first impressions of the most renowned advertising festival on earth. Despite the six-hour jet lag and only a few hours of sleep on the flight I’m not lacking for energy.
Intent on not missing anything on my trip here, I was sure to pack two notebooks: my pocket-friendly Field Notes for capturing ephemeral thoughts and a more classic Moleskine for longer-winded notes. Soon after my Swiss Air flight touched down in Nice — the airport closest to Cannes — I immediately began to fill up the pages of each with jots about this coveted experience.
Roughly 10 hours since arriving to Cannes, I can confidently say that I’ve never been more impressed with any place than I am with this French Riviera city. It manages to pull together elements from my favorite parts of the world: picturesque hills dotted with gorgeous, old architecture that’s reminiscent of Tuscany; a bohemian chic — albeit more wealthy — population that brings to mind parts of Brooklyn or Paris’ Oberkampf; and a beautiful, tropical beach vibe not dissimilar from Rio de Janiero’s Leblon neighborhood.
The ad world’s creative class — bright-eyed rookies and experienced veterans alike — excitedly move about Boulevard de la Croisette, the main thoroughfare of the festival that runs along the Golfe de la Napoule waterfront. Brands, massive holding companies, agencies and vendors all vie for attention in every way imaginable: free branded rickshaw rides that power your phone while you’re aboard, virtual-reality simulations to teleport you to (other) exotic locales, air conditioned beachfront tiki huts complete with free drinks – and those are just the activations I noted while hurriedly picking up my festival pass.
Like most major events of its size, this festival has a central location where much of the official activities take place. The Palais des Festivals et des Congrès is a massive, beautifully designed epicenter for Cannes. Tucked only a few dozen meters from the water, it is the building that features the famous stairs above which the massive Cannes display runs, and it is the building where dozens of agencies will receive Lions that will adorn their award shelves as testaments to their prowess this past year.
While Cannes officially began today, it’s clear that Monday is when the real festivities start. Agencies and egos will be built up and exalted or brushed aside and forgotten about. Careers will be made and legends born. Although we’re in one of the world’s most beautiful areas, you’d be forgiven for forgetting that at times. Here in the French Riviera, with more than 40,000 entries submitted from over 90 countries, there’s only one thing on the minds of advertising’s biggest and best: the elusive Cannes Lion.
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Fitz Maro is innovation strategist with 360i and winner of Campaign US’ "Fearless Thinker" contest.