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Agencies Cannes Lions New Business

Conquering Cannes: Don’t forget to do your follow-ups after you leave the Croisette behind


By Richard Draycott, Associate Editor

June 14, 2024 | 7 min read

Veterans of the Cannes Lions share some sage advice on how agencies and individuals attending for the first time can ensure it is well spent and delivers a long-term return on their investment.


Leaving Cannes doesn't mean your work is done

You’ve convinced the MD you can make it pay. The eye-wateringly expensive flights are booked, and the extortionate hotel room is reserved. You’re heading to Cannes Lions. While thousands of Cannes veterans will be out there in 2024, there’ll be a good smattering of Cannes virgins, too, experiencing it for the first time. It’s a hefty investment for any agency to send its people to Cannes to network, meet with current and potential clients, celebrate the creative work and absorb the creative vibe, attending events, parties and brand experiences.

Part five of our Conquering Cannes series (part four covered the importance of sticking to your plan) is all about forgetting to do your follow-ups when you return to the office.

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Craig Elimeliah, chief creative officer, Code and Theory: “To truly take advantage of your Cannes Lions experience, come prepared with clear objectives. Focus on building authentic relationships rather than just collecting business cards. Attend talks and panels that align with your personal brand, and engage in meaningful conversations. Embrace the creative energy by connecting on a personal level at social events – these often lead to the best partnerships. Be human! The best measure of success at Cannes isn’t just the number of new contacts but the quality of connections that inspire amazing work. Securing a speaking opportunity or panel spot significantly boosts your visibility and credibility. Be heard! The trick to making Cannes worthwhile is follow-up. Immediately after the trip, reach out to new connections with something actionable. Maintain and nurture these relationships to ensure they translate into tangible business results. Sustained engagement turns that initial investment into long-term success.”

Bhavesh Undakat, head of brand, content and marketing services, Frog: “It may have taken a global lockdown for us to properly appreciate the value of face-to-face meetings, but even four years on, there remains something extra special about Cannes that is not just about the French Riviera location. It is a rare environment where the collective mindset is particularly conducive for quality time with existing clients and meetings with new business leads. However, the real skill in maximizing your financial outlay comes both pre and post-event through the sharing of contacts, knowledge and insight with colleagues who didn’t get to grace the Croissette. We ran a Cannes Unwrapped event for both staff and clients after last year’s event. This takes thought and effort but ensuring the learnings and inspiration are fed back into L&D for the team back home means a much better return on investment.”

Jason Megson, managing director, Freeman EMEA: “Cannes is a whirlwind of a week and even though it’s in the most beautiful of surroundings, it’s full on. This is why my advice can be boiled down to one word: process. Or, in today’s parlance, journaling. While you are there, get your notebook out and write (or sketch) everything as you go – your thoughts, contacts and learnings; put them all down as quickly as possible. From the people you met, the topics you covered, moments of inspiration or generosity – secure those by putting pen to paper so you don’t miss or lose anything in the craziness. Then, once home (and rested), they can be formulated into a proper action plan. And from a mental health perspective and coping with the French Riviera frenzy, journaling can be a welcome check and balance that people might not immediately consider.”

Peter Nicholson, chief creative officer, Hill Holliday: “There are a lot of distractions at Cannes, so it requires extreme focus on what you want to accomplish. The best value (INHO) is taking advantage of the global scope of the week. Seeing the work from different countries gives you a sense of the state of the industry across the world – the different sensibilities. Whether you have a global business or not, connecting face-to-face with potential partners from other regions is a great opportunity. While you may see a lot of people you know from back home, don’t spend your time with those you know well or in circles that are familiar and instead focus on making new connections. When Cannes is finished, conduct an evaluation of worth based on your intentions and business needs that you can attribute back to Cannes over the next six months.”

Sandra Azedo, global PR director, David: “Going to the Cannes Lions Festival for the first time is super exciting. Check out the key events and set up meetings with the people and companies you want to connect with. Focus on having meaningful conversations. It’s all about quality over quantity. Jump into workshops and panels to learn new things and get noticed, but only when you can bring you a different point of view. Avoid seeing the same things you’ve heard on the internet before. I always take the opportunity to meet in person people I’ve only talked to via messages throughout the year. Even a quick meeting can strengthen relationships. Don’t forget to follow up with your new contacts after the festival with personalized messages. Success at Cannes isn’t just about instant business deals. It’s also about building long-term relationships and getting inspired. Mix learning, networking, and showing off your strengths to get the most out of the event. Most importantly, have fun and soak up the amazing atmosphere – celebrate creativity and enjoy every moment!”

Garrett Dale, co-founder & partnerships officer, Kepler Group: “Anybody can spend the money to participate in Cannes, but it is important to take time beforehand to schedule relevant meetings, with clear goals in mind, to get the strongest ROI. Connect with people you normally do not see in person, and leave time open without meetings to mingle casually in relevant places – some interesting ‘chance’ meetings can be fruitful, but don’t force it. The investment and effort don’t end when the festival concludes; the benefit is in building relationships and connections that last. Remember, not every meeting or serendipitous encounter has to end in an immediate deal – you’re there to build your company’s brand (and your own) over time.”

Agencies Cannes Lions New Business

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