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A blog about creativity, technology, & humor.

Fuck Yeah, Cannes!

Leaping precariously across the 18-inch gap between the dock and the untethered ramp to a party yacht rented by a 22 year old CEO and his delegation of American college students studying abroad;

Nearly ordering iced coffee from the hotel bar before realizing that the price, 12 euros or nearly $16, was ridiculous even for New Yorkers accustomed to sanctioned financial criminality;

Prancing through a field of lavender in front of a monastery on an island reached by private sailboat chartered by fun-loving Australians (are there any other kind?);

Listening to John Legend rearrange Bruce Springsteen in front of 100 people… and watching those same 100 people watch DJ. Really, they just watched him through their inferior-when-compared-to-the-human-eye cameraphone lenses;

Visiting a villa, a true, French, big-ass-house-on-a-hill-overlooking-pretty-things villa. While wearing linen.

These are a few snapshots from the Cannes Lions festival. It’s a week-long awards show / celebration / rosé-drinking contest for the advertising industry that takes place along the southern coast of France. Imagine SXSW Interactive but only between the hours of 9pm and 5am, and replace all the panels with beach parties.

As part of our relationship with AOL to produce the web series Funded, we were invited to Cannes Lions as partners and unofficial creative ambassadors. My job in particular was to talk, an activity which I have invested heavily in for more than 30 years. I spoke on panels about creativity and held conversations about humor in marketing and joined unconference sessions on live storytelling. I was even interviewed on a rooftop with no guardrail! Anything for the shot, people.

By the end of the week a few things were especially clear:

  1. Australians are amazing people whether you’re at a dinner, a party (is there a difference?), or on a boat. I recommend everyone get your own Australian and deploy in case of boredom.
  2. AOL’s David Shing is insane in a good way. I mean, just look at him. In fact, contrary to probable expectations, we keep finding cool people like “Shingy” working for AOL. Who knew?? Seriously, we love the folks we’re working with over there.
  3. DJ Spooky is probably an actual genius, not just someone you say is a genius because they’re kind of cool. We had a chance to spend some quality time with this artist, DJ, film director, magazine publisher, polyglot. His brain works way better than most people’s.
  4. There should be an age-minimum enforced on yacht rentals, probably 60 years old.
  5. Unsupervised ad industry people away from home + expense accounts = dangerous.
  6. There is such a thing as too much rosé.

The experience of building Cultivated Wit over the past year has been exciting and terrifying, akin to launching a spaceship while building that spaceship and hand-knitting spacesuits in the process. However, I take it as an unadulterated sign of success that within a year of existing, our entire company managed to spend a week on the beaches in the south of France.

We’re doing something right!