Can’t-miss Cannes

(Originally posted to LinkedIn)

Next week, the worlds of communications, media and advertising descend on Cannes for another International Festival of Creativity. While one of the biggest draws is the people you meet and the pool of new business, talent and potential partnerships; I get more FOMO at Cannes Lions than any other festival in the world. And that’s because of the stellar speaker line-up itself.

My Cannes advice is always the same; quality over quantity. You won’t get to see everything. The lines are giant, you’ll get grabbed by a client or a contact to discuss something vital, you’ll go to the wrong place. The only way to survive is to pick your can’t-miss sessions, focus on those, and be flexible with the rest of your schedule.

So with that in mind, here are the ones I’ll be lining up for at LEAST an hour in advance for the five main days of the festival.


AI enhanced Creativity with Adobe. Here we’ll here from Chris Duffey on technology-driven innovations such as Adobe Sensei that will push forward game-changing creative with AI and machine learning. I’m excited to hear about some tangible examples here, since this is one of the key trends to provide competitive advantage for agencies in the next 18 months.

Next Gen Content Creation. Yes, we all know that talking to younger generations that digest content differently and use technology as second nature is challenging. There’s a million sessions on this topic at Cannes. But this one hosted by BBC Advertising promises to look more practically at the situation. The panel will discuss the challenges faced and storytelling techniques employed to cut through with viewers and consumers. Hear from those on the front line of content creation – documentary maker Reggie Yates, BBC reporter Ben Zand and Vivendi’s Dominique Delport, in a panel discussion chaired by Richard Pattinson from BBC StoryWorks.


Mario Testino is one of the big names of the week, and what’s interesting about his session on connection and integrity through imagery is that he’s being interviewed by Teen Vogue. You’d normally expect him to be up there with an editor of a more mature fashion magazine, so I’m keen to hear what the angle is for a younger generation. I’m hoping we start to cover a bit of ‘influencer responsibility’ here.

It’s also China Day on Tuesday, celebrating and exploring the East’s influence on global marketing. We’ll be hosting our own session as part of this, where Fast Company’s Jeff Beer will lead a discussion with Glory Zhang, chief marketing officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group and H+K Strategies’ CCO, Simon Shaw. They’ll discuss Huawei’s ambition as a Chinese brand eager to take on its Western counterparts and disrupt the status quo. Throughout the day there’s some fascinating discussions on other topics, but my top recommendation would be Baidu’s take on the future of AI.


adidas, one of our most-loved and longest-running clients is hosting a session on reinvention alongside megastars Stan Smith and Alexander Wang in the Lumiere Theatre today. This will undoubtedly be a lively discussion on the brand’s constant desire to evolve and what it truly means to be authentic in 2017 & beyond.

Then in the afternoon there’s Brooklyn Brothers’ session with the legend that is Sir Ian McKellen on the craft of storytelling. That’s one not to be missed.


Grey’s 11th annual music seminar this year features Pussy Riot alongside new global creative director Per Pedersen and ECD Alice Ericsson. We need new, disruptive ideas and action. So Grey’s theory is: let’s meet with the rule breakers and find out how it’s done. We’ll hear about the band’s personal journeys from punks to performance artists through to activists with the courage to stand up for their beliefs, even through a horrifying 21 months in a remote Russian prison. According to these women, “anyone can be Pussy Riot”. I’m looking forward to hearing what that means when it comes to the audience in question…


Today sees WPP founder and CEO Sir Martin Sorrell in conversation with Super Bowl & Major League Soccer heavyweight Robert Kraft, and Academy-Award winning director Ron Howard. In a wide-ranging discussion of the intersecting worlds of sport, cinema and marketing communications, the trio will cover everything from making Oscar-winning films and taking the NFL’s greatest prize to the role of commercial creativity in supporting the sports and entertainment industries.

Then a final farewell to Cannes from Burger King: how to suck less at being a client. This should be a welcome end to the programme, with a dash of humour but a serious undertone. How can a burger chain get the world talking about its ideas? How can BK consistently punch above its weight? BK’s CMO and global head of brand ask us to join them for an “R-rated presentation that will showcase the flame-grilling secrets that keep the fire of the brand lit.”

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