As far as official learning, though, it's a big and imposing list. The festival's new tagline, 'the international festival of creativity', promises plenty of top-tier speakers to choose from. Don't let that be the reason you slouch away from the Palais and spend the week on a terrace somewhere. Every agency network has trotted out its brightest thought-leader (or just hired a celebrity to attend) so there's bound to be some interesting ideas, however thickly the program is strewn with stuffed-shirt pitches and doomed start-up product demos.
Here are our picks for must-attend seminars and events at the festival proper. You can't possibly do them all, so we've broken out a Contagious Course. It includes seminars, happening in the main Debussy auditorium as well as forums and workshops happening elsewhere in the complex. (Of course, if you were to endeavor to see everything at the festival, we would recommend letting the least-experienced member of your delegation know it's customary to go to all the festival seminars in your first year, and make them take notes.)
A few bits of useful conference-going framework: 'Why X is killing Y' or 'D is the new A' panels and presentations tend to be bad. Outsider perspectives rule. Always try to check out people you've never heard of. Also, remember, in the old lingo of sweepstakes draws, You Need Not Be Present to Win. Sure, waiting in line with 500 others two hours before he speaks means you'll get in to see President Bill Clinton, but odds are you can hear the salient points conveyed by a friend or colleague afterward if you're willing to deny the frisson of sharing a huge auditorium with a former politician. And, Bubba will likely be on the Croisette later anyway.
Our picks for Sunday are both from Asia and, given hearing from global perspectives is a major reason people travel from all over the world for the Lions, it's a shame they're so early. GroupM China CEO Bessie Lee
and Renren CEO Joe Chen
are talking at 12:30 at Debussy
about China's massive 'social-over-mobile' media migration. Later in the afternoon
in Debussy, Tokyo technology barnstormer Party's CEO/CD/Founder Morihiro Harano
is introducing its story-based platform. Typically we wouldn't recommend one-agency-pitch-style seminars, but Party is likely to clean up in several digital categories and has an interesting perspective.
Monday is Contagious day at the Palais, with two important presentations highlighting what we're up to. First, it's the Contagious main-stage presentation, Better With The Brand
, how brands are creating deeper meaning, truly useful services and great experiences around products, to create deeper relationships and real value in society.
Earlier, eminent director Ridley Scott
get together to talk about redefining brand storytelling
. (Brand storytelling twice in two days, you say? Yes, it's definitely been a pervasive theme at most advertising events for going on a few years, so much so that it's become cliche. But it's not cliche because it's dated, but because there's no better way of describing the sorts of things brands are trying to do with out there efforts from the likes of Party and RSA).
In the vein of getting outside your ordinary, Tuesday morning Starcom Mediavest
are bringing a group of up-and-coming speakers from outside advertising
, including a 'complexity scientist' and 'graphic designer, math practice'. Meanwhile, John Bird
, MBE founder of The Big Issue
, the world's most successful street magazine, is giving what looks to be an interesting master class
, about going 'from poverty and the mind-forged manacles that come with that to having purpose.'
Later on, Facebook goes into the psychology and creativity of sharing
, with Paul Adams
, the company's global head of brand design, talking about the company's research into sharing. We probably would have liked to have seen the data science and psychology folks that conduct the studies at Facebook present their own research, but this should be an interesting look at the topic of influence.
Later in the evening, PHD
goes into 'Ten Ways to Tell a Challenger Story' and looks at the narrative
employed when small brands take on bigger rivals.
By Thursday, the cool, dark confines of the Grand Audi are the place to be for the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase
, which is in its 22nd year
Later on, revitalized by creativity on the big screen, catch P&G
's global marketing and brand building officer Marc Pritchard talk about how
the company's been 'harmonising its portfolio of brands' for the long term.
Friday morning, Diageo looks at how
becoming a more media-oriented company has shifted its opportunities and characteristics. Creative filmmaking company m ss ng p eces
, meanwhile, looks at how video has been reinvented for the web
. Company co-founder Ari Kuschnir
spoke at our FutureFlash
event in Toronto and presented compelling opinions about the 'audience of one' and prospects for greater engagement around filmic content.
Later, Sir Martin Sorrell
, Lord Sebastian Coe
talk about sports promotion in a fragmented age
. Ronaldo probably won't add much, but maybe he'll boot a football through three goals labelled Growth, Innovation and Sustainability.
Finally, if you didn't get enough Ridley Scott earlier in the week, he's back along with Condé Nast Ideactive this time, talking about a new metaphor for transmedia
, calling it a 'ride'. Hopefully this year's smart Prometheus lead-up will be discussed.
That's it! Have fun. Take lots of photos. Send lots of tweets. What do you think? Are we idiots for leaving off something? Did one of our recommended presentations turn out to be a stinker? Let us know!