Katie Rigg-Smith: Freshman year - Welcome to the clubhouse

20 June 2012

It’s with a sense of irony that I find myself getting my ‘Greek on’ despite being in France. 

Although, it’s not the language I’m referencing, rather the long held tradition of belonging to a ‘Greek Society’ (or sorority/fraternity).

You only have to walk along the streets of Cannes to see how many agency and media houses are recreating their version of this college experience. 

Whether it’s ‘Havas Café’ or ‘Google Beach House’, every brand is looking at ways to create a sense of belonging for their members while also sending a message to the world as to what their particular ‘Society’ stands for. 

I can of course only reference my own initiation but that isn’t to take away from other agencies and how they too bring to life the Cannes experience for their ‘pledges’.

Having located our headquarters on La Croisette, I find myself being escorted to the top floor and entering what has been rebadged as ‘Club Mindshare’. 

There are representatives from all our offices around the globe and the atmosphere in the Clubhouse is palpable, with huddles of people sitting around debating topics from the day’s seminars, others working diligently and many more simply having a laugh.

I’m given another timetable, this time of the social, networking variety.  Not only does the Clubhouse act as a great way to gather all staff to talk ideas and implications from the day’s events but these locations also serve as opportune spaces to meet with clients, host events with the press and run amuck with the media.

The Society you are part of is not just something kept behind closed doors.  How your agency or brand represents itself is an important part of all aspects of Cannes – from the seminars and topics you choose to present to the Cannes community, to the parties you are invited to, to the awards you win.  The entire week is about what Society you belong to and what their point of view is on the world around you.

That said, as with any good college experience it’s a case of ‘the more the merrier’ and there’s a significant amount of fun to be had by fraternizing with the entire Cannes community at large, which tends to happen nightly.

Case in point, as I cast my eye around the infamous ‘Gutter Bar’ at 2am to see it largely populated with the entire Australian contingency, I realise that when it comes to Aussies, no matter what ‘Greek Society’ you may have pledged to, nothing will stand in the way of us uniting over our love of beer and a good night out.

Katie Rigg-Smith
Chief Strategy Officer

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