The hype around the Cannes Lions Festival has always been a mixed bag.

For some people, attending and competing is the best part of their working year.

For others, it literally represents the worst of the industry. To them, it stands for everything ugly and wrong in the creative scene.

And in the run-up to this year’s Cannes – and during, and after – my social feed was packed with negativity: outraged social posts, damning articles, and pejorative memes (although you know I love a meme!).

So why is Cannes so divisive? And is all the hate warranted?

For me, the answer to both of those questions is simple:

Cannes is what you make of it.

It is what it is as they say on Love Island – and what you get from the festival of creativity is up to you.

I’ve always been a fan of the Cannes festival. And that’s because I think there’s so much more to it than just awards or rosé.

For creatives, it’s a chance to see the most ground-breaking new work in their field: progressive views and fresh perspectives from every corner of the planet.

It’s a chance to see revolutionary new concepts and old ideas reimagined – and it’s one of the few places where people can meet the creatives behind those campaigns.

For attendees, it’s an opportunity to hear leading thinkers pour out insight and perspectives on the creative industries.

If networking is your thing, there’s no better place on the planet for this industry. Each year, that one-mile stretch along the Croisette is packed with the kinds of top CMOs and tech platforms that are notoriously hard to reach without getting through a gatekeeper.

You can meet a client from the States, chat with a partner from Europe, and then forge a new relationship with a platform from Asia – and have it all done before lunchtime.

For the big networks and global agencies, it’s as good a place as any to hold an international meet-up for their senior teams – against a stunning backdrop that’s filled with great work and fascinating content.

And then there are the awards themselves.

They’re the pinnacle of the whole festival. A global showcase of the best in class from every communication industry, covering nearly every category of creative work.

Sure, there’ll always be one fake piece that slips through – or an argument about whether something should have won or who deserves the credit for a particular idea. But when there are over 30,000 entries coming from nearly 90 different countries that’s bound to happen, winning at Cannes is no small feat.

For some people though – Cannes is just one big party.

You can hit beach venues, step onto a yacht,  and sip a glass (or a bottle!) of rosé.

There are big name artists playing private gigs and Hollywood icons speaking at intimate dinners. The parties might not be for everyone (and to many, they’re probably a bit distasteful). But great things can happen there too.

You can rub shoulders with some of the brightest and most senior minds in the industry, with their spirits high and their guards down. Cannes is all about serendipity.

It’s easy to poke fun at the social aspect of Cannes, but many people don’t get to see much of the beach or the sun. Their days are packed with talks and events – or they’re judging the work on show. Some people don’t even step into the main Palais to view the work or attend a talk – they’re in back-to-back meetings all day, making the most of the huge business opportunities that the Cannes festival creates. And yes… some people stay in bed until 11am just to spend the whole day wandering around hungover.

Like I said, Cannes is what you make of it.

This year was my sixth time at the Cannes festival. Mine was a blended experience. I spoke on a couple of panels, met with loads of clients, built some new relationships, went to a few talks, engaged with the tech platforms and tried to get the Coolr name out there.

Yes, I drank some rosé.

I got everything that I wanted from my time at Cannes.

And that included taking home a Silver Lion for our agency. I’m proud of the work our team put in to win that award – and I’ll remain a big fan of the festival and the huge opportunities it gives us to do business in an informal setting.

I don’t take Cannes too seriously – it’s expensive and it’s not for everyone.

But what you get from it is up to you.

Adam Clyne | CEO & Founder of Coolr.

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