Cannes is not Real Life

Filipe Macedo
5 min readJul 22, 2015

By the MADvertiser

A Young Perspective on the Cannes Lions Festival.

Exactly one month ago, on Monday morning, June 22nd, I was waking up in Cannes. All by myself. And everything felt a bit unreal.

It was my first time at the renowned Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. And what an incredible time it was. It took me a whole month to process it and let it all sink in. But it still feels unreal.

Here’s how it all began.

Making it to Advertising.

I’ve always been a late bloomer. Advertising was no different.

I only got into advertising a few years ago, after having a taste of the corporate world at KPMG and touring all over the country as a DJ.

I moved to comOn and, like many there, I started as an intern. My responsibilities were creating content and managing communities for Nike.

Currently I’m Head of Social and I do all sorts of stuff. From strategy, to copywriting, to managing projects and leading teams.

Making it to Cannes.

As part of a Lisbon based Digital Agency, Cannes was never part of our culture at comOn. But after attending Eurobest in Helsinki last year, I got curious about the Cannes Lions Festival.

Last April I decided to try the Young Lions Competition, but only to realize I had less than 48h until the deadline. I spent all weekend working, despite having remote chances of winning.

During the following week I often pictured myself under the riviera sun. Finally, on April 27th, the results came out…and for my frustrating surprise…I placed second.

After so many day dreams about Cannes I just wasn’t able to deal with defeat. I had to start looking for alternative ways to go to the festival.

Luckily, my bosses have vision and after some negotiation mixed with a bit of charm, I got it. I would be part of the Cannes Lions Young Creative Academy Class of 2015. Me and 29 other young advertisers from all around the world.

My Cannespectations.

In my mind, Cannes was like the Oscars of advertising. A week long event that celebrates and awards the best work of the year.

Other than that I didn’t quite know what to expect.

What I found out was that Cannes feels like an imaginary world. A time and place disconnected from real life. The Cannes Lions Festival doesn’t matter to my family or most of my friends. It doesn’t even matter to most brands and businesses. Real people are not interested in advertising or brands. Only advertising people are.

Most of the work at Cannes is only seen by advertising people, and not the actual public. No one actually knows what we do in advertising. And they don’t give a damn. That’s why Cannes is not real life.

What Cannes actually is.

Cannes is not the “Oscars” of advertising as I thought. It is much more than the awards. Cannes is a home for great ideas, a source of inspiration and provocation.

Cannes is not the best work in advertising of the year. It’s a showcase of cutting-edge creative thinking that sets trends and influences future work.

It’s an unmatched chance to hear wisdom from some of the best creative minds in the world. It’s an unreal opportunity.

The Young Creative Academy.

The Academy is a five day-course, packed with the most inspiring talks, workshops and seminars. I shared the classroom with 30 young creative minds people from 21 different countries.

I got to learn and share stories with people I would not believe to ever meet in person. Busta Rhymes, Ryan Seacrest, Jeff Goodby, Lucy Hokcings from BBC, David Shing, just to name a few.

Cannes was my school for a week. And it was mind blowing. I saw, learned and experienced so much in such a short period. A life-changing experience.

Busta Rhymes, Mary Lee Copeland, Ryan Seacrest, Bob Isherwood.
Jeff Goodby, Pablo Del Campo.

Why everyone should come.

I’m still young in my advertising career, but I am pretty sure that both the industry and the festival are at a pivotal moment of change.

Cannes is not only for advertisers anymore. We live in a world where lines between business, products, marketing and advertising blur, and that’s why this is a challenging but exciting time to go to Cannes.

My passion for learning, sharing and innovation (and drinking) are some of the reasons why I loved Cannes.

Cannes is not real life. And that’s why it is so inspiring.

Bathtubs in Cannes.

8 Tips for an Unreal Cannes experience.

  1. Plan ahead. Find an apartment early, located close to the Palais. It’s much cheaper than hotels and you get a kitchen.
  2. Bigger Luggage. Leave room for the return…you will want to bring home loads of stuff.
  3. Have no fear. When in Cannes, do the things that scare you. Everyday. Go outside your comfort zone.
  4. Be a sponge. You can learn not only from the legends talking at the seminars, but also from those wakling on the Croisette from one party to another.
  5. Run away from your country mates. Cannes is where the world’s top ad talent come together. Don’t spend all your time with your friends from home.
  6. Sleep before and after, never during Cannes. If you are in your apartment for more than six hours a day you are not living the full Cannes experience (including sleep time).
  7. Cannes is a Marathon. The parties roll on from dusk till dawn, followed by a steady stream of free flowing Rosé the next day. You want to take full advantage of your week, so be smart and pace yourself. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.
  8. Don‘t worry about missing out. It’s impossible to be everywhere.

Thank you for reading.

I’m Filipe Macedo, a Strategist and Head of Social at comOn, an independent Full Service Digital Agency in Lisbon.

I’m available for speaking — see here the topics I usually address.

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