15 things not to miss at this year’s Cannes Lions

Some people have an impression that Cannes Lions is all about rosé and pool parties. But, as I regularly tell my colleagues who aren’t going this year, it’s in fact about learning. With that in mind, here’s our pick of 15 talks you shouldn’t miss.

Cannes serves many purposes: as the image above amply demonstrates, it is primarily about awards. But it’s also about networking, catching up, making deals, drinking rosé, and having fun in the sun. Oh, and it’s also about the talks.

In the past, the level of interest in the talks would have been just that: an afterthought. But in recent years, the Cannes Lions organisers have been getting their act together, bringing in celebrities to ramp up the glamour, and encouraging agencies and studios to really bring something interesting to the stages at the Palais. And, looking at this year’s schedule, there really is a lot of potentially good stuff on offer – perhaps that delegate pass will genuinely be worth the money this time. Here’s our pick of 15 talks that shouldn’t be missed:

Stefan Sagmeister; Billie Whitehouse, Wearable Experiments; John Travis, Adobe: Monday 20 June, 15.00-15.45, Lumiere Theatre

Despite promising names on the schedule, the talks at Cannes Lions can often turn out painfully corporate as yet another VP of this or that in polo shirt and chinos fires up the PowerPoint. But designer Stefan Sagmeister is a reliable figure for keeping things interesting. Here he joins Billie Whitehouse, CEO of Wearable Experiments and Adobe marketer John Travis to discuss “risk-taking, fighting against industry norms and breaking out of silos”. Okay, that still sounds quite corporate, but trust in Sagmeister. More info here.

Anna Wintour in Conversation with Christopher Bailey: Tuesday 21 June, 10-10.45, Lumiere Theatre

The US Vogue editor joins Burberry chief creative and CEO Christopher Bailey to offer “a view of the challenges facing creative teams today and the secrets to standing out in the crowd”. More info here.

Games, VR, and Beyond: Inside PlayStation’s Magic Lab: Wednesday 22 June, 11.30-12, Discovery Stage

There is a lot of VR on offer this year. This is our first pick from the genre, with Dr Richard Marks, director of PlayStation’s Magic Lab and Geoff Keighley, executive producer of The Game Awards discussing the possibilities of VR for gaming. More info here.

Predestination: Wired’s Kevin Kelly on Where We Are All Heading: Wednesday 22 June, 13.00-13.45, Lumiere Theatre

With the ad industry obsessed with new technologies, this is likely to be popular. Kelly will be in conversation with Mark Holden, worldwide strategy & planning director at PHD. More info here.

Hacking Yourself Creative: Wednesday 22 June, 14.00-14.30, Innovation Forum

Neil Stevenson from the always-interesting IDEO talks through a series of experiments that the company has been running over the past year to encourage creativity. More info here.

Workplace: Creating the Office for the Connected Age: Wednesday 22 June, 15.00-15.45, Debussy Theatre

How do you create the perfect office space? Bob Greenberg, founder, chairman and CEO of R/GA, filmmaker Gary Hustwit and author Nikil Saval have some ideas. More info here.

Iggy Pop in conversation with Nils Leonard: Wednesday 22 June, 15.00-15.45, Lumiere Theatre

There is an old adage which says you should never see your musical heroes on the stage at Cannes Lions, as they will only disappoint. But Nils Leonard, chairman and CCO at Grey London, is promising to get more out of Iggy Pop than we have seen in similar music-based talks in the past. This new film they have created together bodes well. More info here.

Man-Machines – Humanity and Creativity in the Age of AI: Wednesday 22 June, 16.30-17.00, Discovery Stage

When researching this article for CR’s November 2014 issue, one of the most interesting creatives I met was Yifei Chai, an innovation architect at Unit9. Here he talks through, and demonstrates live, his fascinating Pretender Project. More info here.

Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors’ Showcase: Thursday 23 June, 10-11.15, Lumiere Theatre

By Thursday morning, you’ll really want to see some actual work. The Saatchi & Saatchi NDS always delivers: this year work from 19 directors will be shown. More info here.

Mindy Karling: Preserving Great Content With the Right Audience: Thursday 23 June, 11.00-11.45, Inspiration Stage

Actor, writer, producer, and director Mindy Karling talks with Hulu CEO Mike Hopkins about the creative freedoms enabled by developing her show for the platform. More info here.

Kevin Plank and David Droga: From Underdogs to Game-Changers: Thursday 12-12.45, Lumiere Theatre

The Under Armour and Droga5 founders talk about how to grow a company from “being the underdog to being a legitimate challenger”. More info here.

Ogilvy & Inspire: Oscar-winning director Alejandro González Iñárritu: Thursday 23 June, 14.00-14.45, Lumiere Theatre

This will be a treat, as the Birdman and Revenant director discusses his work with Ogilvy & Mather co-chairman and worldwide CCO Tham Khai Meng. More info here.

Spike Jonze & Shane Smith: Making Content We Care About: Thursday 23 June, 17.00-17.45, Lumiere Theatre

Jonze and Smith give the audience an insight into world of Vice and Viceland, and how to make content “that young people care about”. More info here.

Masculinity Today: The Dramatic Shift and The New Normal: Friday 24 June, 13.15-14.00, Lumiere Theatre

By this time in the week, you will be tired, oh so tired. So this talk, from 72andSunny alongside documentary filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom, model Shaun Ross, and gender studies professor Dr Michael Kimmel, may seem a little heavy. But as brands increasingly need to find new ways to talk to young men, it shouldn’t be missed. More info here.

Uniqlo’s John C Jay: Friday 24 June, 14.15-15.00, Lumiere Theatre

This should be good: John C Jay, formerly of Wieden + Kennedy and now president of global creative at Japan’s Fast Retailing group, owner of Uniqlo, in conversation with Isobar’s global CEO Jean Lin. More info here.

And there we have it. A mini line-up of talks for you to consider, all likely to prove inspiring and interesting. And if none of these take your fancy, there’s always Face-boule.

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