The basement holds the key to Cannes

By Felix Schlepps

Imagine it’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity – and you are a BW Lion. Awesome. Hundreds of presentations, workshops, the hottest shit in advertising, and impressive beach clubs by Facebook, Pinterest, and co. On top, spectacular awards shows, and just by the way, a whole lot of parties in the category Instagold. Okay, what’s the catch? To be honest, there is none. Well, there is one. Especially as a Cannes greenhorn, in June temperatures and the heat of the moment, you tend to bite off a lot more than you can chew. And you quickly regret it.

Right off the rails

The possibilities are endless. In Cannes, nothing seems more reasonable than to hit the ground running on Monday by checking out the famous Promenade de la Croisette. To the Palais! Adamantly, you try to attend all these events which you spent hours researching, picking them out from the app and marking them in your calendar with little hearts. You want to spend your lunch break at the beaches, of course. Ideally, at five of them, one after the other. And with all that, what’s most important, is: Pictures, pictures, and pictures. After all, Cannes is pure content. For your own profile, for DIE KAVALLERIE’s channels, for the BW Lions. For everything and everyone. Right after, you’ve got to go back to the festival area. Just don’t miss anything: Daimler in Debussy, Apple in Lumiére, and maybe just a little “Future of Strategy” in Audi A. And, like I already said, you can’t miss the parties on the beaches and in the mountain villas. You’d never forgive yourself. So off you go. But wait – in the evening, there are some awards shows, too, you have to see at least one of them. So, you hit the ceremony on your last leg. And after that, a beach party here, a pub party there, barely noticing the New York City drum combo’s street performance in passing.

So, this is what I do, for two whole days. What can I say? Tuesday evening, I’m totally drained. Completely overwhelmed with 100,000 impressions and at the same time more and more annoyed by my inability to filter out what I’m really interested in – let alone what I want to research for my Cannes Lions report. In short: Cannes hit me with absolute overstimulation, and I went off the rails.

Magic Wednesday

Lucky for me, Wednesday morning comes around. And it brings me to my best decision of the whole week: first of all, I go for a swim. I walk to the beach at the appropriate speed, almost lazily. I would have loved to attend the 9 o’clock event, but whatever. Right now, the goal is just to cool down. Just take some deep breaths and sort my thoughts. And right there, far out in the enjoyably warm, turquoise Mediterranean Sea water, and in swimming distance of some of these excessively huge yachts, my overheated system regains power. From now on, my perfect Cannes speed is set.

Where the magic happens

In my new rhythm, I think, maybe it’s worth giving the quiet corners of the festival a closer look. There is, for example, the exhibition of the cases which made the shortlist in the Palais basement. Here, quite in contrast to the hustle and bustle of the upper floors, there is almost contemplative silence. So, I stroll through the Outdoor Communication area. This part was already explained to us the day before in an exclusive jury tour. Now I’ve got the time, the peace and quiet, as well as the leisure to take a closer look at the posters. No pretentious case films, no big fuss. Just strong ideas on cardboard. Just how good is the Adidas here to create change campaign with tennis legend Billie Jean King, which aims to motivate women in sports? Or the UBER thing with the Brazilian goalkeeper who takes out his smartphone in the middle of a game just to be abused and insulted by fans and the media – only to reveal later that it was a big PR stunt to raise awareness about the dangers of using smartphones while driving.

I don’t know why, but in this reduced, museum-like atmosphere, I feel the power of these ideas a lot more. This is what makes Cannes fun. Sure, I’ll soon return to the sun, the beaches, and maybe one party, or three. I will also attend some presentations and workshops. But exactly like this – in my new rhythm. And first thing tomorrow morning, I’m going for a swim.