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Cannes’ ulterior allure: agencies share their plans for poaching top talent

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By Kendra Clark | Senior Reporter

June 6, 2022 | 7 min read

Of course the Cannes Lions is about celebrating the best work in the game, doing business and having the chance to hear industry luminaries speak about the issues of the day. But it’s also a crucial moment for agencies to meet with top talent face-to-face in posh hotel suites and quiet cafes. Amid the ongoing war for talent, The Drum surveyed top agencies on their Cannes recruitment plans – and what they expect to happen later this month on the French Riviera.

Bringing your recruiting A-game

Judy John, global chief creative officer, Edelman

Cannes Lions has long evolved from being an awards show to being the marketplace for creativity that attracts the best and brightest from around the world. After two years of impact from the pandemic, I expect the competition for talent will be greater than ever.

Outdoor seating at a cafe in an alleyway in Cannes, France

Is the next big C-suite hire going to happen in the south of France?

The Cannes experience challenges preconceived notions by exposing people to new ideas, technologies, platforms, innovation and other creative minds. This makes Cannes an ideal place for us at Edelman to meet and recruit talent; people are open and looking for new and different experiences. I was one of those people when I met Richard Edelman at Cannes years ago. Now here I am, three years later, creating something different.

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Anibal Casso, chief strategy officer, Ogilvy North America

With how challenging recruiting has become over the past few years, everyone is looking for their next hire at the same time, and seemingly in the same places. As a result, true creative talent has become a highly sought-after commodity, and you’re going to have to bring your A-game to the recruitment process if you want them to choose you. The festival is a living hub for recruiting activity because it brings a unique opportunity to connect one-to-one with a diverse creative community, including the most skilled yet often undiscovered talent the industry has to offer. It gives us a small window of opportunity to meet with the best potential candidates in a more inspiring environment.

Chris Beresford-Hill, president of advertising, Ogilvy North America

There will surely be a lot of swarming the week’s big winners, but the real benefit is the meetings you schedule ahead of time, in the small and somewhat clandestine cafes a few blocks from the ​Croissette. It’s the chance to meet in person with a lot of the talent that is already on your radar, and advance those conversations.

The perfect moment to meet global talent

Sallie Mars, global director of creative recruitment, McCann Worldgroup

Everyone laments about the grueling pace of the Cannes Lions Festival, but for global recruiters it’s the best week of the year. The opportunity to meet the world’s most talented creatives in the relaxed atmosphere of Cannes leads to more meaningful and candid conversations. You just can’t get that in an office or on a video call. Running into people I hadn’t anticipated meeting are the moments I enjoy most. I’ve missed this extraordinary opportunity and I am excited to see what the week will bring.

Bas Korsten, global chief creative officer, Wunderman Thompson

Cannes is like portfolio week. You see the best work in the world and you meet the best creative people in the business. And still [recruitment] is not an explicit focus. It’s about finally connecting with people IRL again and talking about all the great work. From those conversations, opportunities always arise. As global CCO who is thoughtfully considering talent for creative leadership roles in North America, I’m looking forward to face-to-face conversations that happen by chance and ultimately lead to inspiration.

Felipe Galiano, global executive creative director, Ogilvy

Nowadays, we hire talent from all over the world. And Cannes is where everyone comes together. We get to know a bunch of great professionals while grabbing a coffee or a glass of rosé. There is also an opportunity to meet the teams who just won the Lions, which is always a very good moment to approach them and try to win them over. During the pandemic, we had to hire people by exclusively interviewing them through video calls. So this year I am definitely looking forward to meeting a bunch of creatives in person.

Lionel Carreon, executive director of global creative recruiting, TBWA\Worldwide

Cannes to me is akin to an accountant [during] tax season. It’s my busiest time of the year. It’s my Super Bowl. It’s such an important event because it allows us to re-establish and rekindle relationships from around the world in person. I spend a few weeks prepping for Cannes; I’ll do research and set up meetings. The week there is hectic but really amazing. It’s fun reconnecting with friends and acquaintances from around the globe. It’s also great meeting new talent who win for the first time. One of the best parts of this job is meeting people when they are starting out, getting to know them, and seeing them grow and prosper as creatives and as people. I have missed it. And I’m looking forward to seeing everyone there... in person. What a novel idea.

Plus, a moment to uplift up-and-comers

Claude Silver, chief heart officer, VaynerMedia

As an agency that enjoys supporting young talent within the industry, we see Cannes Lions less as a recruitment drive and more as an opportunity to further help young people. To that end, VaynerMedia is hosting a breakfast for the Young Lions Creative Academy to give them a chance to talk to and learn from some of our leaders and creatives. We are also supporting the not-for-profit organization Creative Spirit, which matches those with intellectual disabilities to their dream jobs, by co-hosting a party to help others contribute to this important cause.

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