Hello everyone, I am Ahmed, and I am absolutely thrilled to share my experiences, insights, and highlights from the Cannes Lion Festival 2023 with Junior Mag. But before we dive into that, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Ahmed Elshaarawi, and despite being paid to be a creative strategist, I am simply a passionate observer of the world who finds his way into it through the realm of advertising. So, if that aligns with the topic, count me in.
As a board member of WeAreRA*W, I had the privilege of organizing our annual trip to Cannes, and let me tell you, it was my first time, and I deliberately kept my expectations at bay to avoid any potential disappointment. But to my delight, it turned out to be everything but a letdown.
I’m currently in the process of assimilating all the lessons, insights, people, parties, gifts, entertainment, advertisements, ambitions, delectable food, delightful weather, and above all, the overall content of the festival. However, such an endeavor takes time. Hence, in this piece, I’ll strive to provide you with a concise overview of what you can expect, allowing you to understand what lies ahead and ensure you extract every ounce of value from the experience, because when you’re there, the world is at your feet.
Cannes serves as the ideal ground for networking, sealing deals, and showcasing your hard-earned accolades, and you are more than welcome to partake in all those activities. People in Cannes are receptive to your story, and it all comes down to how you approach them as individuals. When attending networking events, make sure you have your narrative well-prepared and avoid treading the well-worn paths of others. Be open to unfamiliar stimuli from places we know little about. After all, this is the opportunity to be inspired by different cultures, individuals, and concepts, thereby broadening your own vision. By staying true to yourself, you’ll naturally attract like-minded individuals. Oh, and remember to prioritise networking during the daytime rather than the evenings since intoxication levels tend to rise with the darkness.
Personally, the (panel) talks during the festival were the highlights for me. It’s during these moments that you hear untold stories, revealing how winning ideas often begin as simple concepts. They demonstrate that by believing in yourself and your narrative, you can create remarkable and successful work. Moreover, these events also serve as prime networking opportunities, as there is a shared interest that facilitates starting conversations. Given the multitude of talks available, it’s crucial to keep an agenda to ensure you catch the ones you’re most interested in. My favorite talk was delivered by Ali Ali (AliTwoTimes), the executive creative director of DDB and the owner of an independent agency called GoodPeople. His success was largely attributed to not taking the industry too seriously, as those who approach advertising with excessive seriousness seldom leave behind beautiful work. Therefore, embracing fun is essential for nurturing creativity. This leads me to ponder how we have been missing the element of joy in our work, which concerns me, as we are witnessing a decline in exceptional work here in the Netherlands. Attending these talks is vital to serve as a reminder of why advertising is such a magnificent profession.
At times, I couldn’t help but sense that most people were here primarily for the parties, and I completely understand why. The locations, the people, and the atmosphere momentarily make you forget why you were here in the first place. As a non-drinker myself, I experienced these evenings with a clear mind. However, it’s during these moments when people reveal their true selves that I had the pleasure of meeting fascinating individuals from various corners of the world. We connected based on shared interests and niches, and I continue to maintain those connections. These are the instances when you feel empowered to launch yourself into different realms across the globe, and the potential freedom in that feeling serves as a tremendous boost.
The advertising bubble is real, and Cannes serves as the perfect testament to how you can be blissfully isolated from the world and its happenings for an entire week. Yet, it is within this bubble that you become incredibly inspired, fueled by a desire to conquer the world with your ideas. It’s a place where dreams grow larger, creativity is celebrated, revered, and valued, and above all, where visionaries and creators come together to bring beautiful ideas to life.
Role: Creative Strategist
Organisatie: We Are RA*W