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Cannes Lions Survival Guide 2016

Posted By: Brian Atton on June 8, 2016

Cannes Lions Survival Tips

The countdown to Cannes is on! Once again, we feel it is our civic duty to help onboard newbies and enlighten crafty veterans alike, with the top tips and tales of a week spent in the South of France 2016.

This time, with a twist…

Not only are we telling all, but so are our clients, counterparts and comrades! The gamut runs from downright hilarious to need-to-know helpful, so fasten your seatbelt, pull down that tray table, fill up that cocktail, and read on…

TALE: Check Your Passport …No, Really. 🎫
Brian Atton, COO, Simian

This one is almost too embarrassing to talk about, but what the hell…
I was packed and ready to go with a passport that was set to expire in just under 3 months.

Nope. Turns out a passport must be valid for THREE months AFTER your return date (who knew?).

So, with my head hung in shame, I headed over to Air France re-ticketing – I mean, I gotta get to Cannes, right? Lucky for me, they agreed to re-book a Monday evening departure, which meant I had until Monday to get a passport sorted out.

I woke up stupid early (OK, I pretty much didn’t go to bed) to make the 50+ miles trek to the Federal building in L.A. Success! I arrived an hour early (7:30 AM). I surely was going to be the first person in line, right? WRONG. I was in fact, about the 150th person in line – WTF? But then I thought to myself, it’s cool, I have until tonight to sort this out so, chill… In the end, I got all of the paperwork done and was assured it would be ready for me by 4:30 PM.

Whew! We need a cocktail…

By we I mean, both myself and my long suffering wife and Head of Sales at Simian, Kellie. Anyway, after killing roughly 3 1/2 hours drinking Mai Tai’s at Trader Vics, we get back to the Federal building early. They weren’t going to get me for being late, no sir! We walk in at about 3:45 and now I’m about the 400th person in line. Dude, seriously? OK, deep breath… they call the names at random I’ll be out in no time. WRONG. I was the 2nd to last person called and it’s now 5:15. We have a 6:45 flight, but luckily LAX is only five miles away (keep in mind it’s Monday AND it’s rush hour). It’s go time! We’ll be drinking rosé on the beach in just a few hours – whoop!

We hop in the car passport in hand – yay! I flip on Waze and hit Go (what’s that? Did it just laugh at me?).


After several minutes of hysterical laughter that bordered on padded-cell-worthy, I put the car in drive…. and Cannes 2015 was spent sipping margaritas in Laguna Beach.

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TIP: Subliminal Hydration 🍷
Brandon Pico, HAPA Content

My only survival tip would be ICE in your rosé... it helps to hydrate you :-)

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TIP: Embrace the Millennials 🤓
Jay Brooks, CTO, Simian

Say hello the other half, Cannes Veterans…

Instead of sticking to the same ‘ol parties, same old places and familiar faces, take time to dive into the deepening pool of Content Creators and MCNs!

Wander just a few steps further down the beach to a whole different crowd and focus. The time has come to embrace the Millennials – beards, man buns, nerd glasses and all.

TIP: Taxi! (NOT) 🚕
Hershel “Hesh” Rephun, Creative Director, YES, BRAND

I can't tell you where I stay, because it's STILL the best kept secret in Cannes and I wanna go back there next year, but here's a tip:

Make a deal with a minivan driver (it’s affordable) and have him on call for the week. Sitting on the curb, drinking rosé in the sun while waiting for shuttles or taxis from villa parties is the worst part of Cannes (they hate Uber btw; last year, the taxis went on strike). Oh, and get a big logo magnet for the van so everyone knows YOUR company was smart enough to have that shit covered! And, lastly, be as young as I was the first time I went to Cannes. Once you realize what this week is like, you’ll have the sense to pace yourself for the next decade.

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TIP: Hangover? What Hangover? 🏖
John Campbell, Producer, atSwim

Our best survival tip would be to take a swim every day. It erases the hangover instantly. Dive into the sea. Have a coffee. Dive back into the rosé. Literally, rinse and repeat.

TIP: Comfy Shoes and Business Cards 👟
Colette Crespin, Founder, I’m going to Cannes Lions Facebook Group

My tip would be...
Wear comfy shoes and pound that Croisette. Say hello to absolutely everyone and don't look over their shoulder if they don't turn out to be who you had hoped to network with! You never know where you will end up in life and everyone you meet is an asset to life! Be yourself and if it's your first time, listen and learn! …And don't forget your business cards!

TALE: Step Outside of the Cannes-fort Zone 😈
Mike Chiavetta, Partner, KIMBA

For those of you who don’t have the time to read about my journey, here’s a quick tip:

Get your ass out of Cannes for day trips. Hit up Grasse and St. Tropez. It'll feel more like a vacation than a work trip.

Got the time? Read on…

How many times do you think we've walked this street? 60? 704? Who the hell knows. Yup, passed that alley. There's that guy again. How long have they been sitting there? Take your badge off out here you amateur. I can't drink anymore fucking rosé …okay one more.

I got sick of sounding like a jaded asshole in my head and needed to do a staycation while on this arduous "vacation". Break up the week or stay an extra few days, but do it. Fortunately, I had a car. If you don't, borrow one, rent one, steal one, whatever. My non-industry girlfriend was with me. A first timer and she was already set to get out of “France Angeles”. Why bring sand to the beach you say? She's rad, move on. I'll skip over the tolls and roads and driving tips because no one helped me, so you're doing it on your own too. Every day trip picked was happenstance.

First day. Grasse. Do the perfume thing, then just walk. Walk down every alley and stairway. You'll find hidden shops and eateries. Gelato and coffee. It's so laid back. Something about the way they cook fish there. Get whatever's fresh.

Second day. St. Tropez. Stop grab some wine on the way and enjoy the drive. It's beautiful, curvy and dreamy. Pick your beach by looks. Club 55, Nikki Beach, New Coco, find out what you vibe with. You're actually gonna swim here, so bring a suit (or not) or half of one. It's perfect. You're gonna start itching for a healthy dose of rosé, because you just fell in love with France again. Drive back during sunset and Instagram your ass off.

You spent the money, flew for a day and took time off. Go explore, it's easy. You'll be a happier Cannes-er, like I was.

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TIP(S): Say, “Oui” to Planning Ahead 📝
Eric Hadley, Head of Global Marketing, Outbrain

I've been to Cannes every year but one since '98 and my advice is to have a plan of the 10 things and people you must see and do. Commit to getting to those before you get distracted by everything else.

In order to narrow down your list of "must-dos", ensure that you get the lay of the land ahead of your visit.

This includes everything from:

The Geography: Get to know the Croisette and pinpoint the landmark hotels and beach bars as they will become your compass.

Gathering Tips: From Cannes veterans on the best places to hold your client meetings. Cannes is crowded and so its best to have a few options up your sleeves, especially if you don't plan to book ahead.

Investigating Programming: Beyond the main conference Centre, more and more is happening outside of the Palais from agency lead programming by the likes of Carat and Publicis to the return of 'Wake up with the Economist' on the Cannes Lions Beach.

Researching in Good Time: The many many parties and networking events and plan your schedule.

Final tip… pace yourself!

TIP: Good Eats and Extreme Caffeination ☕️
Bernadette Rivero, President /Film & TV, Cortez Brothers

Le Restaurant Arménien at 82 Boulevard de la Croisette. An endless parade of Armenian dishes followed by coffee so strong it makes even Cuban espresso step back and go, “WHOA. Dial it down.”

TIP(S): Escape and a Little Sexy Time 😘

I'm a big fan of getting away from the crowds at Cannes, so my preferred hangout and secret meeting place for conversations where you can actually hear both yourself and your companion(s) speak, is the Rooftop Bar at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Fabulous views, amazing sunsets and great friendly service. You're more likely to find me there than on the Carlton Terrace :)

Obviously, my tips to make the most of Cannes include attending my Sunday panel on Sex: The Final Frontier, and my 11am Tuesday and Cannes Masterclass on 'How to change the world through advertising'.

Both conversations guaranteed to contain things you won't hear anywhere else in Cannes. :)

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And remember…

Cannes is pronounced like "can" not "kahn".

Have tips of your own to share? We'd love to hear them! Let us know on Twitter or Facebook and who knows, you may show up in our next installment!

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