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My Cannes Young Lion Experience

By Jennifer Levin, account executive, Draftfcb LA/OC
The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity was my first international festival. I was attending an academy specifically for those in my field: the Cannes Lions Young Account Executive Academy. I had heard stories from multiple perspectives on the typical Cannes Lions experience, from the must-see seminars and speakers to networking and socializing on the Carlton terrace. Though I was excited to attend, the full reality of the week didn't hit me until the first day in class. Seeing my schedule laid out before me, I knew I was in for a once in a lifetime experience.

Kevin Allen (Kevin Allen Partners), one of the individuals responsible for the Mastercard “Priceless” campaign, and Daryl Fielding, one of the masterminds behind the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign, were our guides for the week. With people of that caliber to guide us, I knew what I was about to embark upon had the potential to influence and impact my career and way of thinking in a very significant way.

The flurry of events 24/7 is almost enough to make your head spin. Not only was I able to see inspirational seminars in the Palais, but I was also fortunate enough to receive special lectures directly to our academy. This was an amazing opportunity as it allowed me to sit and talk with people from all over the World, but also receive more personalized experience in our small class of 35. Our academy curriculum was specifically built to help turn us into stronger leaders within our agency and this industry and how to add countless value to our roles.

Throughout the week we heard guest speakers from all types of brands and agencies from across the globe. All of this learning culminated in putting our new knowledge to use in a pitch for Intel at the end of the week. We built a brief and pitched in teams for the mobile business.

I think that one of my favorite seminars was actually in an academy presentation by Daryl Fielding on Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign. As marketers, I feel that it is safe to assume that many of us have used this as a benchmark in pitches and presentations, but we Young Lions were hearing the untold story. It was a story of victories over seemingly insurmountable challenges that faced their team. It was amazing to hear her stories detailing the initial idea and brief to getting the work right.  Years later, this campaign is still winning awards on an international playing field and making an impact in culture.

I think that one of the most fascinating things about this experience is being able to hear perspectives from agencies from different countries and culture. I feel that, much too often, agencies get stuck in a pattern of believing that broadcast is the solution to every client’s problem. Strolling through the work on display and learning from our speakers, I know it is not the case. It is our job to ensure that we bring the best possible solution to our client that would make the most significant impact on their business, regardless of the medium. It is sometimes a big undertaking for clients to take a leap of faith with their agency on some ideas brought forward, but that is the true test to a client-agency relationship – trust in your partners.

Kevin and Daryl shared so much information with us from both a client and an agency perspective and I am positive this will impact my work at Draftfcb. One of the biggest things that I will take away from this experience is the knowledge and insight to build stronger relationships and help all departments in the agency to operate as one so we can produce truly inspiring and game-changing work together.

Cannes Lions is not short on inspiration, whether it be in the academy, the Palais, or even the Gutter Bar; you never know who you will bump into. I can honestly say that I learned something new in every conversation and experience that I had the past week. I encourage all the future Young Lions to not let this amazing opportunity pass you by, whether you attend one of the academies or just the festival. I hope to see you on La Croisette next year.