By Marina Hui, Account Manager at Coley Porter Bell

Every year the advertising industry descends upon the South of France for a week of networking, idea-sharing, and rosé drinking. Attending the Cannes Lions festival would be a no-brainer, if it weren’t for the hefty price tag attached to a delegate pass. The cost of attending the festival often restricts attendence to senior leadership.

Not falling within this category, myself, Emma Looby and Emily Ross were quite firmly not on the 'guest list' for Cannes this year. However, being members of Coley Porter Bell, Ogilvy & Mather and OgilvyOne respectively, we have spent the last two years surrounded by many past winners of Ogilvy’s Cannes Lions awards.  

Aside from the talks and the award shows, these Cannes connoisseurs said that what they loved most about the festival was the atmosphere. We decided that we didn't need delegate passes to soak up some vibes, so we hedged our bets and booked our flights.

Fast forward a few months, and we have just arrived back from an unforgettable week at the Cannes Lions festival. Although our lack of delegate passes meant we couldn't attend the talks inside the Palais, we did go to a huge variety of events at the fringe venues along the Croisette.

Particular highlights for us included the SnapChat big wheel, photobooths, ‘tree-shirt’ printing, film screenings, VR experiences at YouTube beach, ball pools and slides, inflatables on the beach, rooftop views on top of the Hyatt, and giant beach parties. Amongst all this we met people from all over the world, all with different stories to tell and learnings to share.

Our main ‘take away’ from the week was that if you can go to Cannes, you should. For anyone that is thinking about attending next year sans-delegate pass, we’ve put together our top tips just for you.

Before you go

  • Decide early. Flights and accommodation for Cannes fill up quickly, and the earlier you book the more affordable it will be.
  • Go for the full week in order to give yourself the best chance of attending a variety of events.
  • Get business cards printed. Many of the events you go to will ask you to leave your business card for future correspondence, and they’re also very handy for when you’re meeting lots of new people.
  • Tell people you're going. They might have spare tickets to events, or they might even want to meet you out there.
  • Brush up before you show up. You’re likely get face time with senior agency members and clients, so make sure you’re up to date on the latest industry news.

When you arrive

  • It goes without saying to talk to as many people as you can. Without a delegate pass almost all of your learnings will come from the people you meet.
  • Be flexible. Your week will be dictated by the people you meet, not the places you planned to visit.
  • Take the opportunity to build new dynamic relationships; don’t feel like all your time should be spent talking about your day job.
  • Don't assume you need a delegate pass to get into everything. It’s always worth trying your luck - a lot of places just want your email address and registration – its like currency!
  • Eating out in Cannes is very expensive, so expect to buy your food from the local supermarket, and never say no to a canapé.
  • Don't feel guilty about having downtime – it will be a very busy week.

While you’re there

  • Morning – visit Cesarine bakery, started by O&M’s very own Gregoire Meilhat.
  • Noon – grab a quick (and cheap) lunch at the Le Kiosk opposite the public beach. The Bagel Nature is a winner.
  • Night – head to the Gutter Bar – everyone will be there.

Read about Ogilvy UK's wins at Cannes Lions 2017 here.

Catch up on the action from Cannes by searching #OgilvyCannes on social media.