Ajay Kakar: 10 reasons Cannes is the place to be

22 Jun,2015

There are adfests and then there are adfests. But for everyone in the A&M ecosystem, undoubtedly the most prestigious event of the year are the Cannes Lions. Here are some compelling (and some fun) reasons for why you should be at this French Riviera town when the biggest awards ceremony kicks off this weekend.


By Ajay Kakar


1. Whether you represent an agency, media or client side of the Marketing Services fraternity, I believe that the Cannes Lions festival is a Mecca for you. It is the melting pot of learning and inspiration. Where else would you get to see, hear and experience the world’s most creative leaders, all under one roof, across all the disciplines of our ecosystem?


2. The festival reflects and represents the ever-changing, ever-evolving times in which we live. It urges you, nudges you and provokes you to at least keep up with the times. And for the few who care or dare, it also inspires you to think ahead of the curve. A festival that, till yesterday, was synonymous with the world of creativity, merely in the context of advertising, today stands for creativity in the context of ideas, big ideas. This year, they have introduced the Innovation Lions, shifting the focus to creativity in innovative big ideas.


3. People who have attended the festival over the years will vouch that this is where they saw and heard the future, first. Yesterday’s dreams, today’s reality. It is at the Cannes Lions that we first heard about what sounded like a make-believe world where — thanks to technology — man will no longer need a map to travel, a directory to search, an encyclopedia to learn and pen and paper to communicate. Today, these predictions have come true and taken for granted; a part of our routine life.


4. Bill Clinton. Al Gore. Ben Affleck. Yoko Ono. Mark Zuckerberg. Sir Martin Sorrel. Freida Pinto. Maurice Levy — a motley of renowned achievers and renowned speakers from various walks of life. From across the world. All under one roof.


5. Why attend? The numbers representing the converts and believers speak for themselves: Over 12,000 delegates, more than 4,000 companies from some 90-odd countries. Convinced yet?


6. It’s not ‎just the agencies that attend. Adidas, Amazon, Audi, Bank of America, BMW, Citi, CNN, HSBC, Heineken, Ikea, ING, Kraft Foods, Levi’s, Nestle, Nike, P&G, Pepsico – the list goes on and on. These are just a few of the corporate giants whose CMOs and marketing teams attend the festival.


7. Unilever and P&G‎. Coke and Pepsi. WPP and Publicis. Where else can you hear and learn from some of the biggest competitors/ business rivals across the world? Only at Cannes, of course.


8. The most sought-after recognition in the world of marketing services is a Cannes Lion. But just winning is not enough to get you on the stage. Only work that earns a Silver or Gold-plus gets to take a bow on the stage. And attending the awards night is a treat. Every evening you can get a glimpse of the work that actually won a Gold, thanks to a two-minute clip for every win. Learnings from the best-of-the-best – work created over 12 months in more than 90 countries, all unfurling before your eyes.


9. As a marketer, you get an opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people who created the magic. And thanks to the experience, whichever country, category or brand you represent, you go back humbled, realising that there is so much more that can and needs to be done.


10. Whether you represent the agency, the media or the client; whether you are young or experienced, there is something for everyone. So much to choose from. Workshops, seminars, forums, masterclasses, displayed work and of course, networking opportunities, all happen simultaneously. You will always go back feeling unsatisfied‎. Wishing you had more time to imbibe things. And also hoping that you will have the opportunity to be back again, the following year.


Ajay Kakar is CMO – Financial Services at the Aditya Birla Group


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