Why Cannes is not just for wankers

Jules Hall
By Jules Hall | 20 June 2014
The Hallway managing partner, Jules Hall.

Why am I in Cannes?

Three years ago I dragged myself, more than a little begrudgingly, to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Like many others I had a pretty clear view of what I thought I would experience. And none of it sounded very appealing.

So why I am a Cannes convert, back here for my third year in a row?

Our industry ultimately exists for one reason: To create things that other industries are not equipped to create, capable of creating or focused on creating. Our trade is a mix of art, and increasingly science, and whilst the outcome can be absolutely magic, the road to that magic is harsh and unforgiving. We try to apply theory to increase our chances of success, but as any successful explorer will tell you – experience is far, far more important than theory. And that's where Cannes comes into its own.

To be successful in this industry you need to be talented, of course, but talent alone will not suffice. Talent mixed with experience, however, has the potential for potency. And whilst there is only so much you can ever learn in a week, there is no doubting the incredible depth and array of experiences you can gather in a week at Cannes.

So how has Cannes evolved for me in three years? It’s still totally overwhelming. There are so many lectures, talks, workshops happening at any one time that one of the hardest tasks is choosing what to attend. And there are so many people I want to talk to and learn from. And I’d just be lying if I didn't reference the parties. Sure, they’re on the beach and yes they probably have some incredible DJ or artist headlining, but I hope you will believe me when I say its at these events that some of the best conversations happen – where people are relaxed and open, happy to share and discuss.

This year I’ve been much more focused. The headline speakers are great – how often do you get to listen to Kanye West of Ralph Fienes? But it's some of the lower profile sessions where you can glean the really valuable learnings. Go deeper into that program and scour around. And don't sit in the same sessions as your colleagues – spread yourselves around and then share your experiences at the end of the day.

With such an esteemed audience the presenters need to be damn good. So earlier this year when we got invited to present it was with a mix of pride and fear that I said ‘yes’. As part of the independent agency day we were asked to share the story of The Hallway and to give insight into the rise and rise of the independent agency scene. Having the honour of presenting to so many talented creative people is an experience that will remain in my memory for a long time.

So, if you still think Cannes is for wankers, you’re entitled to that opinion (there are still plenty of them here). But if you can hold back from investing in an entire wardrobe of white linen and get on with focusing on the experiences, you will leave a far more interesting and informed person and you will be far better equipped for your next creative challenge. You will also be ridiculously tired and pretty sick of rose´.

Jules Hall is managing artner of The Hallway. To see a visual diary of The Hallway’s #instaCannes experiences follow @thehallwaysydney on Instagram or click here.

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