What I learned about surviving Cannes I learned from the BBC
By Kerry Fitzmaurice
You don’t need to go to Cannes to appreciate both its glamour and its grueling schedule. Photos and videos are posted on social media of people at events, parties, meetings and shows at all hours. Things start at 9 a.m. and wrap up around 4:00. In the morning. For seven days. To survive it, you need endurance and some do’s and don’ts.
But first, the BBC. Not the brilliant British news source but rather the equally prestigious Bikini Bootcamp at the Amansala in Tulum, Mexico. Shortly before my daughter left for spring break in April, I emailed the Amansala and within 30 minutes was booked for eight days. Eight days of working out for five to six hours a day. My intention was simply to lose some winter weight, but surviving BBC gave me renewed insight on how to survive the Cannes Lions.
Set goals — Go with a mission and a message. At BBC, I wanted to spend time alone, get my ass kicked and lose some weight. I accomplished all three. At Cannes, much can be accomplished on the fly, but plan it out as much as you can, and hold yourself accountable.
Cannes is a marathon, not a sprint — Pace yourself. At BBC, each day was filled with nearly six hours of exercise — a mixture of high-impact and low-impact — and peppered with delicious food, massages and rest. Recharge as hard as you work and play, or you won’t make it to the finish line.
Hydrate — And not just with rosé, although it is delightful and refreshing. I recommend a one-to-one ratio: One water for every rosé. Those who know me know that I skip the rosé all together and go for vodka soda. They are hard to find, which makes it easier to hydrate.
Sweat and Sea – You can cure most ailments with a good sweat and a dip in the sea. Unlike at BBC, exercise and sleep are free at Cannes. Hard to come by, but free. The advantages for your mind and body are priceless. I like to sneak away for a jump in the sea and a nap at the Carlton Beach. Hiding in plain sight. Priceless. And you will be rejuvenated for the next round of networking.
Let beauty and culture inspire — From the Mayan ruins and the caves, to the blue, blue water, Tulum inspires. So does Cannes. Not only will you be surrounded by examples of the best work in our industry, you’ll be sitting next to the people who made it. And if that’s not enough, look outside. Really look. It’s stunning.
Listen — Sure you have a message you want to deliver but don’t forget to listen. It is energizing to meet new people and make new connections. When you really listen, new relationships are born, and you might actually learn something.
Go with the flow — When things don’t pan out, breathe and redirect. Tulum is on Tulum time. Cannes is on Cannes time. The party will be too crowded, your prospect or client may not show up, you’re not on the list. Honestly, who cares? Make a new plan, and you will most likely bump into a better contact and have more fun.
Wardrobe — Everything is better if you’re dressed the part. Cross-training in running shoes was not ideal, and neither were yoga pants in 85-degree sun. At Cannes, you’ll be walking everywhere. Heels is a rookie mistake; I know because I made it, and even though I know better, I will again. For sure. Bring enough clothes to dress for all of the locations and occasions.
Wingman — I survived not just the workouts at BBC, but the restricted, alcohol-free diet because I met someone who cheered me on and had my back. When I was weak, she was strong, and vice versa. In Cannes, you need a wingman. Someone to save a key table at the Carlton, wrangle the client, wrangle you, make sure bills are paid and everyone gets home, or, if you’re lucky, on the award-show stage.
Don’t take yourself too seriously — At Cannes you are hustling yourself, your agency, and from place to place. Enjoy it. I am proud to be part of this industry and honored to be going to Cannes to represent my agency. I wanted to get into advertising because it was not only hard work but fun. At the end of the day, it is just advertising, and I love it.
Ready, set, rosé!