Five reasons I love Cannes Lions: Tom Cijffers, MD, Zenith Optimedia UK

It's nearly that time of year again, when the most senior of agency bosses desert their offices for the wine and wonder that is the South of France. The Cannes Lions attract everyone who is anyway in European advertising, and this year is likely to be no exception. In this series, some senior figures offer their five main reasons for loving the festival so much. Today, we hear from Tom Cijffers, MD, Zenith Optimedia UK.

1. The single best thing about Cannes Lions is getting to see great work from all disciplines in the marketing mix, but just as importantly, from outside the industry. The main stage at the Palais has such a great selection of talks reflecting the global zeitgeist of that year – from how to set-up a K-Pop band, to a global competition run by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation to build the best toilet for Indian villages, to using data and infographics to better understand the London riots. This year won’t be short of interesting talks that’s for sure. For example, the festival is hosting an Innovation Day that will see TED speaker and human cyborg Neil Harbisson showcasing a unique antenna that enables him to hear in colour.

2. Beyond the main stage Cannes Lions is just like Glastonbury, the event hosts just as many fascinating talks and events on the side stages as it does on the main stage. It is often here that the business is done, the contacts made and the real value comes to those who attend. The festival offers a great platform to see what innovations smaller companies are developing and where the creative industries are heading next.

3. The festival is a prism reflecting the changes in the advertising, business and consumer worlds. The presence of the big tech companies from Google, Facebook, and Twitter through to Microsoft is unmistakable and gets bigger and better every year. Nowadays Cannes is as much about trying out Google Glass or the Xbox One as it is about looking at great TV work. This year will showcase a revamped TechTalks where companies will showcase the latest in app development and new mobile technology that is changing the industry. This aspect of Cannes offers fantastic potential to learn about future technologies and experiencing first-hand the potential these hold for the media and marketing industry.

4. Cannes is all about having everyone in the same place and there’s nothing more enjoyable than seeing friends, colleagues from your global network, ex-colleagues, clients, ex-clients – and often seeing them in a state of inebriation they would never admit to! The festival’s infamous parties and events provide great entertainment to catch up with old friends, while also making new ones.

5. There is a whole part of people’s wardrobes that comes out at Cannes but no-where else. It’s summer smart casual that never gets an airing in the UK, and certainly not in the office. Cannes is the only place where linen shirts seem completely normal…

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