They say there is no feeling like the first time.
Your first day in the agency.
Your first panic attack as the the deadline tightened like an invisible noose.
Your first ad that survived the re-work and the research, to see the light of day.
As the days and months go by you become a seasoned player of the game and you believe you have seen all your advertising ‘first times’.
Until the day you land up in Cannes, surrounded by lion hunters.
Your first time in Cannes. Here is what you need to know.
1: You land up in Cannes but you don’t land in Cannes. This summer city has no airport. Your flight lands in Nice. From there, you take a rather expensive taxi ride to reach Cannes.
2: No matter what your mother says, do not pack sweaters. The sun is fierce, quite like India. A light jacket is a good decision for your evening walks.
3: Once you register and get your pass, guard it. Guard it through the drinking and the dancing and all your shenanigans. Why? Getting a duplicate pass is only slightly less stressful than getting a Lion. It involves a visit to the local police station and a round of dumb charades to explain your problem.
4: Study the festival and identify the speakers you want to hear. We have had the good fortune of listening to giants of the Industry like Lee Clow, Dan Wieden, Marcelo Serpa, Anselmo Ramos and David Droga. We have had the delight of listening to Jamie Oliver, Monica Lewinsky and Al Gore. Cannes is not just a festival of advertising. It is a festival of creativity. You will discover this, one talk at a time. On a very lucky afternoon, we have also heard Piyush Pandey speaking about advertising in India.
5: Use your camera for more than selfies. Take pictures of the key slides of the talks. The gems you want to bring back home to inspire your teams with. You will tell yourself everything is online and you can grab it anytime, but you won’t. You will come back and get sucked into the bottomless well of work.
6: If you think you have to queue up for every little thing in India, welcome to Cannes Lions! There is a queue for every talk and every show. Being on time is not enough, be early. If the main auditorium gets filled, you will have to sit in the adjoining auditorium and watch the show being screened there. That is depressing. Trust us.
7: The Palais basement is the temple of ideas. That is where the shortlists are displayed. Wear comfortable shoes and don’t let your mind give you any excuse to skip that. Immerse yourself in lane after lane of the best of the best.
8: Carlton, Majestic and Martinez are the hotels of choice for most advertising legends. If you want to spot them or make your 30-second pitch, hang out there. Remember there is a fine line between admiration and stalking. Stay on the admiration side of the line.
9: Missing mummy’s food? We have heard of an Indian restaurant in Cannes, but we have never been there or even bothered to find out its location. We would say your best bet to have decent Indian meals would be to hang out with Indian delegates who cook their own meals. This tribe exists and there are stories of tantalizing garam masala aromas enveloping the croisette.
10: Have fun. Listen. Absorb. Laugh. Wet your feet in the sea. Wet your lips with the wine. If you win, don’t let it swell up your head. If you don’t win, stop your heart from breaking and scattering all over the city. There will be a second time. Believe it.
Kainaz Karmakar and Harshad Rajadhyaksha are CCOs at Ogilvy India (West)
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