Cannes Lions 2018 is over. The key trends and news of the week were:

  • A return to the festival’s creative roots
  • Less yachts and no Snapchat ferris wheel – ad tech and duopoly players had reigned it in for this year
  • Martin Sorrell is not going quietly – his return to the stage garnered much of the headlines towards the end of the week

However, as I reflect on my second trip to Cannes Lions, I find myself trying to explain to my friends and colleagues how drinking rose in the south of France and dancing to Idris Elba and Fatboy Slim on the decks can really be justified as work? Here is my attempt to answer that question.

Captive audience

The global marketing and media industries descend onto the Cote D’Azur for a week of lunches, yachts, Provence rosé and maybe a trip inside the Palais if you have the budget for a ticket. Because of the investment required to go to Cannes you can be pretty sure that most of the people there are senior enough to hold some sway within their organisations, so you are rubbing shoulders with decision makers. Contacts you have tried and failed to meet up with previously even though you work in the same city are more conducive to catching up with you over a drink on a beach or in the bar of The Carlton.


There are those serendipitous moments where you bump into clients and contacts whilst walking along the Croisette which leads to an impromptu lunch. This is when you get the time to talk more generally and find other potential avenues of opportunity that you wouldn’t come up with during an hour’s meeting in an office. This sounds like networking 101 but in Cannes it’s more successful because everyone is having a great time – fuelled by Whispering Angel rosé.

More hours in the day

There generally seems to be more hours in the day. Time in Cannes seems to go on forever and before you know it, it’s 3am and you are still up – plenty of time for more networking!

And finally…

Famous last words of Cannes courtesy of DigiDay:

“Let’s just go for one in the Carlton.”

“I’ll do it when I get back to the hotel tonight.”

“I’m going for a run in the morning.”

“Breakfast at 8:30 sounds great.”

“I’ll be there in five minutes.”


Rebecca Blinston-Jones, Deputy MD, MWWPR London