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Meet the most influential agency executives, creative minds, and innovative production companies at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Focus on Cannes Lions with Simon Cook

What's new at the Cannes Lions? What events should you not miss? And most importantly, how can you win a Lion? We asked Simon Cook, the festival's new managing director.

  • What’s the most important new element of the festival this year?

It’s got to be CLX - Connect, Learn, Experience - our new, fully immersive activation at this year’s Festival. It’s a joint initiative between MediaLink and Cannes Lions, and it’s designed for global marketers to meet, learn from, and partner with a hugely exciting and diverse set of world-class content creators and entertainment experts, like Activision Blizzard, Adobe, NBCUniversal and TikTok. It’s an experience-led environment, where our delegates can discover how to create compelling content to better drive consumer engagement. For the first two days, it’s invitation-only. It’s open to the entire Cannes Lions community on Wednesday and for the rest of the Festival, to come and explore the dynamic range of activations first-hand.

  • How have you adjusted the event’s new formula since introducing it last year?

We made significant changes in 2018 and the feedback from the industry has been overwhelmingly positive. We streamlined the Festival, reducing it from eight days to five and transformed the awards and the content programme into nine Tracks, making the Festival easier than ever to navigate.

2019 is really about consolidating the significant changes we made last year. There aren’t any huge adjustments. Our content programme is focussed on 10 themes, as well as our nine tracks, enabling our community to select tailored content more easily. And to get to the heart of the issues, challenges and trends affecting their business. We spoke to over 900 global leading industry experts to help us shape the key themes for Cannes Lions 2019. They shared their concerns, insights and visions for the future of creative marketing communications to inform the programme.

  • How does the tracks system help entrants and participants?

The Tracks were designed to act as an organising framework and bring cohesion across our Awards and content programme. It helps delegates navigate the programme, and the Festival, more easily. Each Track - Craft, Communication, Experience, Reach, Impact, Good, Innovation, Health and Entertainment – guides and shapes the key disciplines at the heart of the global industry.

We’ve also appointed nine Track Ambassadors this year.The Ambassadors support us to consult with the industry and reflect their ideas, as we move the Tracks forward to champion, offer advisory, and elevate their specific discipline. The Ambassadors are selected from the 2019 Jury Presidents and will change each year.

  • What’s your top tip for awards coordinators who want to perfect their entries?

Play the long game. On average it takes three years to win a Lion. Just by going through the process of entering you will learn a lot. You need to immerse yourself in the shortlisted and winning work to establish your own benchmark and understand where you sit. You need to explore all of the winning work from previous years and then challenge yourself to break the creative mold. Take a look at our learning and intelligence platform The Work, it hosts overs 200,000 of the world’s best campaigns from Cannes Lions over the years, including every entry for 2019.

  • Tell us a piece of insider info that will help attendees make the most of Cannes?

The talks and seminars get a lot of attention - and rightly so - but don’t forget to visit the Awards Hub. It’s a vast exhibition and content platform where you’ll get a behind the scenes view of what happens in the jury rooms and where you can gain insight and creative inspiration from the winning work and jurors fresh from judging. Take a guided tour of the Work, attend a screening or book an appointment with one of our awards experts. We also have live judging sessions (for the Innovation Lions, Titanium Lions and Glass: the Lion for Change) Those discussions and presentations offer some of the best content of the festival.

We’ve also really focused on elevating the experience for festival first-timers this year. So, if you’re attending for the first-time, join one of our meet ups and tours of the Festival, which include networking with other newbies who are attending from around the world. 

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