Need an Insider’s Guide to Cannes Lions? ADWEEK’s 3-Part Podcast Series Has You Covered

According to Mayo Clinic, the average American adult walks somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day. That’s a figure that would make veteran media executive Lou Paskalis little short of Superman.

“My record is 28,000 steps in one day, according to my Apple watch,” said Paskalis, chief strategy officer of Ad Fontes Media.

What could possibly prompt a corporate chief to hoof it that hard? It’s time to lace up for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Paskalis was a guest on the inaugural episode of the Cannes Dispatch, hosted by ADWEEK chief executive officer Will Lee and chief experience officer Jenny Rooney. The three-part podcast series captures the buzz and distills the intelligence from this storied event on the French Riviera.

Cannes Lions is now in its 70th year, though it bears little resemblance to what it looked like even 25 years ago. In 1999, Paskalis recalled, the festival was just what its name implied: a flashy conclave for ad executives to show off their work.

Ad magnate Michael Kassan (whose abrupt departure from MediaLink in March put him on ADWEEK’S June cover) remembers a moment he realized Cannes was changing.

“One of the world’s largest marketers turned to me and said, ‘Michael, do we need to pay attention to this social media thing?’” said Kassan, also a featured podcast guest.

The revolution of Web 2.0 rewrote the advertising playbook and the Cannes Lions program along with it. Today, the programming and networking opportunities offer as much for a chief data officer as a chief marketing officer.

Yet just as Cannes has drawn a larger cross-section of professionals, the reputation persists of a champagne-splashed clique of powerful white men. Shelley Zalis, founder of the advocacy group The Female Quotient, recalls it well.

Zalis’ memory of her first time at Cannes was plodding back to her hotel by herself. “I wasn’t invited to any of the parties,” the podcast guest said. “I remember feeling like: How am I ever going to feel included here?”

It’s a painful memory—yet ultimately a fruitful one.

Today, the Female Quotient’s stages the Equality Lounge, a networking event where name tags are not permitted—instantly dispensing with job-title elitism.

Lee and Rooney asked guests to share some survival tips for these five vital, kinetic and stressful days in the sun. Here’s a sampling:

• Set aside time to walk the Palais floor and “see some of the creative ideas for inspiration,” Paskalis said. An idea that worked in Brazil can probably be adapted for New York.

• Ritzy setting aside, treat Cannes as serious work. “If you come home from Cannes with a suntan and a sore liver,” Kassan said, “you’ve done the wrong thing.”

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