Digiday is heading to Cannes next week to cover the biggest global gathering of the ad world. The Cannes Lions was traditionally the place for agencies to celebrate the best TV spots. That’s still the case, but it has broadened its approach in recent years to encompass creativity in digital media in a big way.
Digiday’s coverage will include reports from Jack Marshall and me. We hope to bring to light the flavor of the festival, both what’s said and what’s not, what happens inside the Palais and far away from it at the many hotel bars that dot the Croisette. We’re kicking off our coverage with a list of do’s and don’ts accumulated over the years. Digiday’s coverage of Cannes is made possible through the sponsorship of Turn, the advertising technology platform.
Take the bus. The fancy-pants grandees will opt for the helicopter ride from Nice to Cannes. That will set you back plenty. The others will opt for a taxi, which could also run you a good 100 euros. The savvy Cannes visitor will take the city bus. It runs express to Cannes and will drop you directly in the center of town.
Carry water. The French seem to enjoy dehydration. It’s hard to find water anywhere. With all the rose and coffee being drunk, this is a recipe for disaster.
Don’t overbook. Everything at Cannes takes twice as long as it should and three times as long as it would anywhere else. Accept this. Plan on half hour meetings taking an hour and a half.
Expect sticker shock. There’s a good chance that a ham and cheese sandwich will cost $30. And it will take an hour.
Go to a seminar outside your field. Some of the most interesting talks at Cannes aren’t the ones you expect. Learn something about what’s going on in a totally different area, either geographically or by craft.
Skip the boat. Yeah, the idea of yachting in the Mediterranean sounds awesome. But then you never know. Getting on a boat means a four-hour commitment you probably don’t want to make. The risk here is just too great.
Expect clunky Internet service. For whatever reason, the French Internet seems a lot slower and more unreliable than the American Internet. Chalk it up as part of the charm, and glom free WiFi off Google, Microsoft and others at their beach locations and within the Palais.
Don’t order the magnum bottle of rose. It might seem like a great idea, but you’ll look like an idiot.
Don’t wear flip-flops or any kind of open-toed shoes to The Gutter Bar. Cannes’ semi-notorious late-night watering hole is, to put it mildly, a shit show. Broken glass is the norm. Expect some inebriated Nordic to drop a bottle in front of you. This is the kind of place where your night could end with a tetanus shot if you’re not prepared.
Don’t buy the La Pizza hype. Yes, it’s a pretty good pizza, but let’s face it: ad people can have a herd mentality. Instead, head down Rue d’Antibes and hang a left on a little road called Rue Hoch. It’s refreshingly free of traffic, and you’ll find Bistro Casanova, a great pizza place with chili-infused olive oil to drizzle on your pizza orientale.
Hit the sidebar at Carlton. The scene is out front at the Carlton terrace. Duck inside to the small bar off the lobby called the sidebar for a nice place to have a quiet drink.
Go for a run early. Cannes is all about late nights. A nice counterintuitive move is to get up early for a run along the Croisette, which is only free of wall-to-wall people during mornings. Head east and hug the coast for a few miles. Bonus: you’ll probably pass a few pathetic stragglers from The Gutter Bar.
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