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Tips for surviving and enjoying Cannes Lions

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Mary Whenman, President, Women in PR, was a Juror for Glass: the Lion for change, at Cannes Lions last year. Here are her tips for first time visitors to the festival.


For the best deals, book your flight early and book EasyJet. I flew out on the Friday before the Festival via EasyJet from Gatwick. Almost everybody on board was heading to Cannes Lions, plus a few Euro 2016 football fans
When to arrive

The only people in Cannes before the festival starts on the Sunday, are the organising team and the Jurors. If you have the time and budget to arrive on the Friday or the Saturday, you’ll get a seat in the bar of the Martinez for a quiet, middle-aged drink. Come Sunday, the bar will be heaving and somebody will be dancing on top of the piano while a junior ad executive bangs out some tuneless tunes.

iPhones & chargers

Last year, the Cannes Lions technology partner was Samsung. As a result, there wasn’t an iPhone charging point to be found in the whole Festival. Take your charger and an adaptor plug, take a spare charger and take a portable battery pack. I lost my charger on the second day. Fortunately I bought the last portable charger in the Orange shop. You cannot take too many iPhone chargers!

Wi-Fi & Laptops

30,000 advertising, marketing and PR executives will all be using their mobile phones within a single mobile network cell at once!  Ditch the laptop and leave it at the hotel. Remember you’re an hour ahead of London and can get through your inbox in the morning before your colleagues are in the office.

Cannes Lions App

All the information you need can be found on the Cannes Lions app. Download it before you go to schedule and register for the events you want to attend.

Clothes: Women

Last year I contacted Bibi Hilton, MD, Golin London, for advice on what to wear at Cannes Lions. Her advice was spot on, “Wear clothes for an upmarket resort holiday.”

Don’t: Wear tights, LK Bennett suits, office heels or reveal too much flesh. Despite appearances, it’s still a work event. Side boob isn’t a good look and a bra’s a useful garment.

Do: Pack for the heat – it was 25-28 degrees last year. Take a scarf, pashmina or jacket as the AC in the Palais can be cold, particularly in the Jury rooms.

Clothes: Men

I saw more crimes against fashion committed last year by men rather than wo
men, most of them by senior execs aged 40+ trying to look 20 years younger. If you’re a man over 40, embrace it and channel your inner George Clooney or David Coulthard in the Pit Lane

Feet & footwear

Get a pedicure. Your feet will be on show. This applies to men as well as women. You’ll do a lot of walking. During the day wear flat shoes. Ditch the brogues and the kitten heels, they’re not a good look on the sand or boardwalk. I took two pairs of summer sandals last year and a pair of wedges for the evening.


If your company is paying for you to attend, which is a pretty significant investment, make the most of it and aim to write one blog a day. You’ll have no shortage of material.


All the headline speakers take to the stage of the Palais des Festivals. The first speakers are normally up on stage at 10.00am. If you want to be guaranteed a seat, you’ll need to start queuing between 8.30-9.00am.

The Croisette

Almost everything happens on the Croisette. It’s about 2km long with the Martinez at one end and the Palais des Festivals at the other and the Carlton and Majestic in between.

The Girls Lounge

This is a one-of-a-kind destination for women to connect, collaborate and empower each other. The Girls Lounge is based on the top floor of the Martinez in a beautiful, private suite overlooking the bay and they put on some great events.

ICCO House of PR Cabana

Don’t forget to drop into the ICCO House of PR Cabana on the beachfront