Planes, Trains & Super Yachts – how to get ahead in #adtech

What we’ve learned at Cannes Lions 2016.

There is no question that the Cannes Lions is a giant in the land of the global advertising, creative and increasingly digital industries.  The great and the good flock to the annual homage to agencies, brands, personalities and brand pomp. [avec un soupçon of French panache]

We’d read with interest some of the positive and negative sentiment by the industry about whether the event remains a relevant platform in today’s connected creative environment.  Like so many industries, the creative landscape is mid [perpetual] change, it’s being influenced by technology, the explosion and evolution of media, changing consumer powers and behaviour and as an industry pressure to become more diverse, to better reflect the consumers and societies it aims to influence.

So armed with a basic grounding of what to expect, Miappi as a humble, fast growing #adtech business we found ourselves heading out to meet customers including Unilever and Clear Channel and partners such as Percolate Inc.

Opportunities abound at Cannes. Chance conversations can lead to new relationships and even on the spot deals. We hadn’t expected to ‘close deals’ in the way that we did, an early highlight being the day one take-over of all the Havas Cafe digital screens. A real bonus and testament to the team who were able to have the screens up and running within an hour.

If you are a start-up considering the time and investment required for next year’s event, here are some of our learnings and tips about surviving the lure of the Cannes Lions:


Flights into Nice get booked up fast and are only available at a premium, we opted for a very convenient, economical / enjoyable alternative by flying into Marseille and taking the SNCF direct to Cannes.

A beautiful train journey. If you do fly to Nice though, apparently the Uber helicopter… is a great experience and ‘good value’ to quote a ‘source’


Technology is in our blood and so Airbnb came to our aid in the form of a slightly out of town apartment on the hill. Great views, peace and quiet, and a shady balcony for working on during the day…all this and only a 10-minute walk down into town. It’s been our base and we’ve loved staying here.

Consider that a ** Hotel in town costs €260 in comparison to a beautiful apartment, with a wonderful view for €75 per person per night. Of course, walking up the hill each evening is pretty tough after a full day of meetings and a few wines…but well worth the effort. Oh, and did we mention the pool?!


Parties, networking events and even a few talks – 90% of Cannes best conversations occur outside of the Palais. So planning your time, putting the effort in to find the best events, and leveraging your network are extremely important. Our favourite spots to hang out were the Havas Café, the Facebook Beach, the Unilever Foundry Island Party and a host of more intimate yacht parties.

The best of the business conversations seem to happen from around 5-8 in the evening, after which people slip gradually into social mode. There are still good conversations to be had (maybe the best ones!) but as the parties get going there is less direct talk about business.


We very much enjoyed the culinary delights Cannes has to offer. Go to the Rue St-Antoin in the Old Town for a fantastic vibe and some not so cheap eats. Two dozen restaurants each with a little terrace crammed into this steeply sloping medieval street. The food is great and the people watching even better.

Never far from our mobiles.  Make sure you have the Vivino app downloaded so you can check out just how much that €40 bottle of Bordeaux (the cheapest available) should have cost!


Dress code is South of France casual. We all brought jackets and smartest trousers just in case but to be honest its generally so hot that shorts and t-shirts/shirt are the done thing for most people. Pack your swimming trunks just in case you have time to check out the hotel pool or even the beach.


If you do manage to get to the beach (for a meeting of course) or find yourself doing business in lovely Croisette bar over a glass of rosé it’s worth remembering that not all of your team could be there so try to ensure that you don’t give Cannes envy to those back in the office (or at home).

Limit how much you go on about how great Cannes was and think twice before posting the 8th picture of you on a super yacht to the company Slack channel. The only thing you should be rubbing in is sun cream.

We have thoroughly enjoyed our first foray into the dizzying Cannes Lions ring.  It’s been worth the personal and commercial investment.  We will attend next year and would recommend it to our peers if you are active in the industry.  Its uniqueness is an ability to bring together in one place the most respected and senior people from the global advertising and creative industries.

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