Cannes 2015: And so it begins, what you need to know

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 22 June 2015

As I write this, I'm sitting on an Emirates Airbus A380, en route to Cannes, via Dubai and very briefly the UK. It seemed like a good idea to have another look at the Cannes schedule and see if I could thrash out a plan of attack.

I wrote last year ahead of Cannes about how there is so much to see, watch, learn and absorb that whatever presentation or sessions you manage to get to there's always a few other equally great speakers and interesting topics you're missing elsewhere.

The same looks to be true this year. And in typical fashion, maybe even more so. There are 180 sessions, and 500 speakers.

I think more so than in previous years the struggle will be balancing the big names on the main stage, with seeing something slightly left field and unknown on one of the smaller side stages hosted by agencies and tech fims. The entire Innovation Lions conference programme, a new two day programme that stands separate to the main line up, is worth blocking out two days for alone, as sessions and speakers explore how data, technology and creativity merge and interact.

Whether it's Mondelez' phenomenal CMO Dana Anderson talking about gender diversity on the Grande Audi stage, Dazed publisher Jefferson Hack interviewing Samantha Morton or Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of the internet talking at OMD's side stage, or Coca-Cola's Wendy Clark talking at Microsoft's Fast Talks, or Marilyn Manson talking about god knows what at the annual music seminar presented by Grey - Cannes has it all. And then some.

Navigating Cannes is a bit like navigating a European music festival - or trying to. And not just because everyone is drunk a lot of the time and the sun is shining. You always end up missing one of the main stage acts you had been intending on seeing ever since the line-up was announced because you got distracted by a weird indie electro band you stumbled across in a tent in the woods. Often though, those are the acts that turn out to be the best, and the ones you remember and keep coming back to.

I know this because it's happened to me. On more than one occasion. Sometimes the weird indie electro band goes on to be one of the next big things everyone is talking about and you get to brag about it saying things like "I saw them when no one knew who they were," and other equally cool yet slightly obnoxious things like that.

Sometimes, it goes the other way, the band doesn't make it big, and no one ever really hears of them again. But that doesn't change the fact that they were incredible and reflected a moment in time.

The same is true of Cannes. There are the big names that will not fail to provide some insight but also some intriguing acts on the sidelines. Sir Martin Sorrell's annual fireside chat this time around, with Al Gore, will obviously be on the list. As will Sir John Hegarty, who never fails to offer great value, and is there talking about his Project Everyone venture with Richard Curtis.

Then there's the celeb element. Pharrell Williams is there. Australia's own Natalie Imbruglia too. Kim Kardashian is following husband Kanye West's appearance on stage last year with one of her own this year which will obviously draw the crowds, but really, do I care what she has to say? I'll be honest - no, but it will be the talk of the town.

Then there's relative newcomers and unknowns like Mark van der Heijden, the junior creative who backpacked his way around Europe working at 28 agencies in 22 countries.

There are those sessions which are fringe topics at this year's festival of creativity, but by next year could be the dominant topics. I hope my crystal ball is working and I make some good calls, but it's hard to know.

These are the demons I've battled when trying to carve out my pre-Cannes plan of attack (which will inevitably fall by the wayside by day three). I'm trying to gauge which sessions, topics and speakers will be of most interest to readers, which are most worth covering, and that's before we even touch on the awards themselves.

The full Cannes schedule is here so take a look and if there's something you think is unmissable let me know.

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