Surviving Cannes Lions

August 10, 2016

If you’ve been following Joto’s progress, you’ll know that earlier this year we were chosen by Unilever to join the world’s best startups for the Foundry 50 showcase at Cannes Lions 2016. The festival was unlike any event we had previously experienced, but somehow we managed to get out alive.

So before the booze and LinkedIn requests fade to a distant memory, may we present our five golden rules for surviving Cannes Lions…

Lesson 1: Blag. By the time we departed the festival, no free swag was left unworn, no free booze was left un-drunk, and no free party was left unattended. We had been reborn as a troop of well-oiled blagging acrobats.(Blagrobats?)

In the bizarre world of Cannes Lions (where the Daily Mail yacht could legitimately lay claim to the best parties) we realised blagging was just how things were done in Cannes. Very few people were actually invited to the festival’s numerous parties, so the only way we could experience anything at Cannes Lions was to at least look like we were invited.

Lesson 2: Forget the Palais. As you would expect, the real networking happens outside the main event, far away from the Palais des Festivals (see Lesson 1). But what surprised us was the sheer number of people who showed up for the festival without a ticket. For them, the opportunity to be at the right place at the right time (again, see Lesson 1) was far more important to them than the speakers and the ceremony. And with the cost of the tickets what they are, I can’t say I blame them.

Lesson 3: Circulate and Percolate. This one is hard. As a team on tour, it was tempting to stay in our own little group and drink the night away. But after watching one determined festival goer introduce themselves to literally everybody in the room, we realised we had just witnessed a masterclass in turbo-networking*. And why not, the whole point of Cannes Lions is to network. We later saw them on Take That’s yacht.

*This individual later revealed they didn’t know Will Smith was responsible for “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”. I hope for their sake, they knew who Take That were.

Lesson 4: Team Up with Someone Who Knows What They’re Doing. At the beginning of the week we met a mysterious man. Bearing more than a passing resemblance to The Man from Del Monte, he told us he’d been to the Cannes festival every year for the past 25 years. And as the sun set, he regaled us with tales of his exploits, listing every nightspot we should attend, and in what order. He also told us to “stay away from the villas” whatever that meant.

We followed his advice and ended up buying an cripplingly expensive round of beers at the Carlton hotel. Needless to say, we had been denied entry to every single venue on his list.

At the end of the week, we met a girl who had been serving drinks at our party. She was great company and got us into every event going. Make of that what you will.

Lesson 5: See It. Eat It. After our third consecutive hour searching for a restaurant we could afford, we realised (for duration of the festival at least) Cannes becomes the polar opposite of a “dry town”. Come midnight attendees are bulking up their meagre 40 euro pizza slice with buckets and buckets of free bottomless champagne.

We eventually discovered “Facebook Beach” was the one (and perhaps only) source of free and plentiful food at the festival. I can now tell you exactly how many miniaturised mushroom risottos it takes to make a full-sized risotto. It’s 14.

Jamie Wieck (Those, Co-Founder & Director)
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