If you’re in the marketing or any creative industries you would have most likely heard of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity. If not, it is one of the most important festivals of the year, inspired by the infamous Cannes Film Festival. Held in Cannes; the south of France at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrés, the annual festival hosts over 14,000 delegates from over 90 countries across the world. The festival hosts the most established and coveted awards for the creative and marketing communications industry. Winning awards at the festival ranks you among the world’s elite as it is recognised globally as the ultimate achievement in creativity.

I was honoured to be invited to speak at the Cannes Lions this year at the Roundtable at Lions Entertainment where the likes of Naomi Campbell, Common, Leila Fataar & more were also scheduled to speak. The roundtable section was a more intimate talk compared to the entertainment stage or the spotlight stage and consisted of creative & strategic thinkers who were curated to affect positive change through the power of creativity and networks. The roundtable was an interesting one as rather than discussing trends and past campaigns, we were provided with current real world issues by organisations, where the aim was to provide viable solutions. Some of these organisations included Debate Mate & Malaria No More. It was a great talk with the opportunity to network with other business owners & bosses around the globe.

With so many great talks happening at the same time, it was important to have a tight schedule in what events to attend whether it is educational or just based on personal interest. My Cannes experience has shone light on the importance of scheduling & organisation, as it showed me that scheduling your day, weeks and maybe even months can create more impact when looking at the outcomes. My Cannes experience officially started once I went to collect my badge from the speakers lounge. I had scheduled my first talk which was on “Fashion as a Cultural Influence” with Naomi Campbell but little did I know I was going to meet her in the speaker lounge right before. We walked past each other and locked eyes before she saluted me. She also briefly conversated with me whilst she was preparing for her talk which was up next but with all eyes gazing on her in the room, I decided not to pursue a further conversation. Another reason was probably because of the things I had previously heard about her but after her talk I saw a whole new side to her, one which I assume many had not heard of or experienced for themselves. After her talk we met again on the terrace, only God knows how but we briefly got chatting about where we're from (South London) till she was taken away by her entourage but that was probably one of the memorable moments at Cannes this year.

Michael Makinde with Naomi Campbell taking a selfie (Photo by Cannes Lions)

It was important for me to get the right balance of talks at Cannes, some that will make me laugh, some that will be of great interest & relevance and some that I can use to contribute to the future of my agency Kinde LDN. Some of these talks included an hilarious talk with Shaquille Oneil & Conan, Art of the Hustle with Tyler Perry, an Un-skippable Craft with Leilar Fataar and 5 Campaigns that shook the world with LEGO, Bacardi & IBM.

As interesting as the Cannes Lions is for professional & personal Development, I had noticed it wasn’t just about this but had an equal balance of work & play where at night it became alike to a party island maybe even better. Along the croisette many brands had hosted their own beach activations such as CNN, Spotify, Twitter & Google. To me it seemed as of there was a battle for the beaches with each brand attempting to produce the liveliest events not to mention the best freebies. To be fair everybody seemed to get their shine at one point as far as I know. Google hosted many UK artists at their beach such as Nadia Rose, IAMDDB and Jorja Smith but Spotify probably held the craziest party of them all with a mini Travis Scott concert which I witnessed myself and was very lit - I even bumped in to Common at the party, what a night eh?

Travis Scott performance at Spotify Beach, Cannes Lions 2018

Despite all the celebrities attending the festival, the highlight of the festival for brands and agencies remains the Award show. With a year jam packed with campaigns from the biggest and best the ceremony breaks the silence of who created the most impactful work over the year. With categories such as health, communication, social & influencer, entertainment & innovation, brands & agencies go head to head for the Grand Prix & other elite awards. It was especially heart-warming to see work that I have had some sort of connection with win something at the awards. The iconic Nothing Beats a Londoner campaign by Nike & Wieden & Kennedy went viral and had us young Londoners feeling proud; managed to earn themselves a Grand Prix which you can imagine is probably the highest rank of them all. Also grabbing a Grand Prix, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation was awarded for excellence in Jay-Z’s music video “Smile” from his 4:44 album. Other award winners which caught my attention were Project 84 by CALM & Adam & Eve DDB, EA Games & Adam & Eve DDB with Fifa 18 - More than a Game and Rolling with a Champion with Uber, Lebron James, Kevin Durant & Uninterrupted LA.

It should now be evident that if you’re in the creative industries, Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is the place one should aspire to be. Who wouldn’t want to spend 5 days or less at a festival where you can educate yourself but also have the time of your life simultaneously. Regardless of all the talks and parties it was an honour to be able to contribute some uncommon perspectives to other established brands and agencies. The vibe Kinde LDN is trying to bring to the creative/marketing industry is one that breaks common conventions and produces the uncommon. We’re looking forward to many more years of Cannes experiences and God willing it will continue to create more impact on the world than ever before.

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