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Editor's pick Retail

Adidas uses AirDrop to gift sneaker collab to Coachella festival goers

Adidas used Apple’s AirDrop feature to gift lucky attendees at Coachella Valley Music Festival this weekend with a new shoe collaboration with musician Donald Glover (also known as Childish Gambino).

A randomly selected number of people who were attending the festival were sent an image of the shoe, dubbed “Nizzas”, via AirDrop. Those who accepted the image then had one hour to pick up a free pair of the kicks at a designated area.

Inside the shoe box, a small note outlined certain “responsibilities” that came with receiving the shoe. New owners of the coveted “Nizzas” were encouraged to take three actions at the festival to promote the shoes: wear them, keep them on all weekend and lastly, watch the Childish Gambino performance.

Also at the festival, Childish Gambino collaborated with Google to launch “Brighter in the Dark”, a custom tech and music installation where attendees could take photographs in the dark and explore the musician’s creative world. This was part of a larger collaboration between Childish Gambino and Google which started in February, where the musician joined the tech giant’s camera feature “Playground” as Playmoji (an AR avatar) that users can interact with.

Meanwhile for adidas, this experience is another clever activation that adds an element of excitement and surprise to the consumer when they are least expecting it. For example at last year’s ComplexCon, the brand dropped new sneakers by asking users to scan giant cubes located across the venue at designated time slots.

How are you thinking about product innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners for your innovation strategy. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology, powered by a network of top startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Comment Events Retail sustainability technology

Your guide to SXSW 2019 through 10 key themes

SXSW has shifted quite remarkably in the past 10 years – from a launchpad for new technologies, to a reflection of much broader connected culture. During the Interactive portion of the festival, there remains an underpinning of innovation, but so too is there everything from politics to gender on the agenda.

The audience accordingly has widened from those looking for the latest tech trends or emerging startups, to those aiming to understand how societal shifts and digital consumer behaviors are impacting their businesses.

For 2019, that looks set to continue. For those headed down to Austin from the brand world therefore – from marketers to retail executives – it pays to be one step ahead in what to expect. Here are 10 themes to look out for during this year’s festival and the main events to head to in order to see them…

Entrepreneurship

There’s always a theme around entrepreneurship that pops up during SXSW, but this year’s line up looks particularly engaging. Top of the bill is Howard Schultz, former Starbucks Chairman and CEO, who will be talking about growing a global brand with an eye on humanity as well as profits. Meanwhile, Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are taking to the stage for the first time since leaving their company, to talk about their entrepreneurial journey. Other highlights come from Esther Perel, who is applying her relationship therapy to workplace dynamics, and Brene Brown, who will explore showing up and speaking out.

Wellness

Wellness as a theme has been increasingly emerging at SXSW over the past few years, as digital health has evolved beyond fitness trackers, for instance, into mental health and mindfulness. That plays out in a few different ways this year, from the expo dedicated to wellness as a theme, to the house Lululemon has with programming focused on yoga and meditation, and a keynote from Gwyneth Paltrow talking all things Goop. Over at the Current Global’s Innovation Mansion, highlights lie in a keynote from meditation app Calm’s co-founder and co-CEO, Michael Acton Smith, alongside a guided meditation experience from the app in our pool house, and a game show dedicated to the wellness revolution.

Michael Acton Smith, Calm
Michael Acton Smith, Calm
Sustainability

Sustainability follows neatly after wellness as we think about not just ourselves but our planet. On that note, there’s a lot for the fashion industry to stew over this SXSW, including a session featuring the H&M Group and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition; another from Finery founders Brooklyn Decker and Whitney Casey, and one from SAP on a more sustainable supply chain. There’s also Rent the Runway talking about the sharing economy, Walmart looking at sustainable beauty, and a keynote at our Innovation Mansion? with the head of global product innovation at Levi’s.

Experiential

When it comes to retail, experience remains the buzzword du jour, and there’s a lot to learn at SXSW related to such a theme. From the large-scale activations taking place across the city, to those discussing how to do such things well. Giant Spoon is the agency behind last year’s winning Westworld experience at SXSW, and they’ll be on stage discussing how they do it. Also worth seeing is a session dedicated to how to ensure engagement, delight and success through experiential retail above and beyond the overdone ball-pit and photo-worthy backdrops. We’ll also be heading to Calvin Klein’s talk on how to humanize your brand experience in the robot era.

International Women’s Day

Gender and equality isn’t a new topic to SXSW, but International Women’s Day takes place on the first day of the festival, which provides an appropriate opportunity for a celebration of women this year.  Cue lots of events and talks dedicated to the subject, including a full set of programming from Bumble, a panel featuring the women building brands we’ve always wanted, such as Rachel Blumenthal’s Rockets of Awesome, and a session on the rise of feminists with fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff. Also look out for actress Zoe Saldana’s keynote on changing the narrative for millennial and Gen Z audiences.

Melinda Gates on stage at SXSW 2018
Melinda Gates on stage at SXSW 2018
Retail Tech

What’s interesting about this year’s SXSW schedule is seeing talks by the likes of Magic Leap distinctly pointing their focus towards the retail audience. They’ll be talking about AR in the digital shopping experience, while Walmart, Amazon and Kohl’s are (separately) discussing the future of shopping via computer vision, machine learning and AI. Also not to miss is a session featuring the Current Global’s CTO, Scott Emmons, formerly head of the Neiman Marcus Innovation Lab, diving into how retailers can leverage emerging technologies to thrive in a rapidly changing landscape.

Street Culture

If we’re talking culture today, there’s no escaping all things streetwear in terms of mass consumer spread. SXSW is reflecting that fact with various sessions dedicated to the topic. StockX’s Josh Luber has a keynote session talking about his online marketplace designed to work like the stock market. Meanwhile, I’ll be hosting a panel on stage with Levi’s, NTWORK and Johannes Leonardo – the agency that has worked with the likes of Alexander Wang and Adidas Originals – to discuss how streetwear turns hype into big revenue. That story will continue over at our Innovation Mansion with a business of streetwear-themed gameshow. One additional talk to try and get to is with Nike’s Tinker Hatfield, who’s known as a legend among sneakerheads.

The Nike PG 3 NASA on StockX
The Nike PG 3 NASA on StockX
Blockchain

With a new track dedicated to blockchain at SXSW this year, it’s almost cheating to add it as a key theme, but there’s no escaping the growing presence it’s had at the festival over the past few years. The most interesting sessions for 2019 include a keynote from Joseph Lubin, co-founder of the Ethereum blockchain and CEO of ConsenSys, the Winklevoss twins talking about the cryptocurrency revolution, and a session on radical transparency in the food supply chain. ConsenSys also has a house during the festival where blockchain trends happening across entertainment, fashion, media and more, will be discussed.

Privacy

If blockchain is a key topic, then setting the stage for that, has to be trust. The past couple of years at SXSW have been heavily navigated towards fake news, but after a year of big data protection busts, 2019 orientates itself towards tech ethics and privacy above all else. There’s a not-to-miss session from the founder of Foursquare on location privacy, a couple of deep dives on user privacy in a post Cambridge Analytica and GDPR world, and a look at trust in the era of data.

Looking to the future

Rounding out our themes is the required nod to the future that SXSW has always brought. Malcolm Gladwell is in town to discuss self-driving cars, Publicis is going to explore invention in the age of creativity and the Current Global’s CEO, Liz Bacelar, will dive into the future of beauty with L’Oréal. We’re also looking forward to the Serpentine Galleries’ Hans Ulrich Obrist exploring the possibilities that AI presents for the creation of new art forms, and for those still in town by Wednesday, Bruce Sterling’s always enlightening annual closing remarks.

How are you thinking about retail innovation? We’re all about finding you the perfect partners to do so. The Current Global is a consultancy transforming how fashion, beauty and consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Editor's pick

Hunter flies giant hot air balloon boot in experiential campaign

Hunter "The Original Flying Boot"
Hunter “The Original Flying Boot”

Hunter has launched its largest ever experiential campaign with “The Original Flying Boot”, which sees a 120-foot wellington boot-shaped hot air balloon fly across the globe.

Setting off from the brand’s birthplace in Scotland, the boot will be appearing at festivals, sporting events, shows and other key outdoor moments across Europe and the US throughout the year.

The boot, which features all of the iconic wellington (or “welly”) boot’s design details, aims to promote the brand’s position as a British export. The balloon will travel down from Scotland to London in July before heading over to Europe, where it will appear at major events in countries like Spain and Belgium. It will eventually make its way to the US to engage with the brand’s largest overseas market.

The campaign is also being supported by a social media element where users are invited to post pictures of the hot air balloon using the #HunterOriginal hashtag for a chance to win Hunter prizes.

Brands are increasingly tapping into outdoor experiential campaigns not only as a way to keep their name front of mind, but create opportunities for earned media. The more aesthetically-pleasing or original the campaign is, the more it is photographed by consumers and shared on social. Similarly this year for Valentine’s Day, British womenswear and accessories label, Anya Hindmarch, released its Chubby Hearts activation where gigantic inflated red hearts – similar to the design of its handbags that season – were scattered across iconic London spots such as Battersea power station and Hyde Park.

Hunter "The Original Flying Boot"
Hunter “The Original Flying Boot”

Categories
Editor's pick mobile technology

Why it matters: Eminem enhances Coachella set with augmented reality

Eminem AR experience at Coachella
Eminem AR experience at Coachella

The new ‘Why it matters’ content series from TheCurrent Daily highlights cross-industry innovations and analyses why they are relevant to the fashion and retail space. 

Eminem may not be a name that first springs to mind when considering innovation, but during his headline slot at this year’s Coachella music festival, the rapper used augmented reality to enhance the live music experience.

Coachella goers could download the Eminem Augmented app and throughout the set see visuals surrounding the stage that will be present during Eminem’s upcoming US and European tours.

Footage of the show highlights just how powerful adding a digital layer to live experiences can be, and accordingly the potential this could present to fashion and retail brands.

Given the growth of e-commerce and the increasingly connected expectations of today’s younger consumer, it has become vital for brands to develop engagement strategies around enhancing the physical world with a digital layer – from the new role of a flagship store to creating consumer-friendly immersive experiences.

While we have seen the likes of Zara, Outdoor Voices and Gucci experiment with AR technology to trigger small experiences on mobile, Eminem’s larger than life feature shows an unforeseen layer of immersion suitable for a group setting.

Unlike virtual reality, which isolates the user to a new alternate reality, AR is by its very nature a more communal, sociable technology because of the way it layers on top of the existing world around you.

The music industry is frequently vocal against fans viewing gigs through their mobile phone screens, but in Eminem’s case comes a certain sense of not just accepting this as standard but innovating on it accordingly.

As the CEO of his record label, Def Jam’s Paul Rosenberg, said: “We figured, if the phones are going to be there and people are going to be putting them up in the air and looking at them anyway, why don’t we provide a way to maybe change the way they’re perceiving the show.”

The Coachella experience was time-stamped and geo-tagged to ensure that the visuals were exclusively available to attendees and could only be seen within a few hundred yards from the stage.

The app also provided access to some other exclusive AR content, including a humorous ‘Mom’s Spaghetti’ interface that used image recognition to identify the festival’s universal food containers and layered graphics over it.

According to Rich Lee, creative director of Drive Studios who developed the experience, the app is an initial step that could signify a new portal to connect with music fans.

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Comment Editor's pick Events

From the archive: Tips and tricks for surviving Cannes Lions

In no place is the saying ‘burning the candle at both ends’ truer than at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Especially if you’re a first timer.

With a week full of back-to-back meetings, endless high profile speakers, multiple Oscar-worthy award ceremonies, and enough parties, networking opportunities and bottles of rosé to sink any one of the hundreds of glamorous super yachts you will likely not be able to get on, the eternal quest for sleep is a futile one…

But why exactly would we want to do that anyway and risk missing the very best of this century’s Mad Men in their finest hour? Yes, you can expect to see ad land behaving badly, but so too will you feel you’ve just learnt, absorbed and experienced the very best of it all within the space of a week, not to mention in the luscious surrounds of the French Riviera.

By the end you’ll never be happier to go home again, but you’ll probably also want to come back next year. So here are some tips and tricks to help you get through it…

Cannes Lions 2015
Cannes Lions 2015

Take your prep with a pinch of salt

You’ll want to make a plan before you arrive. Know what’s ahead of you, whether it be seminars to attend or meetings to book. Figure out your game plan, RSVP to what you need to (bear in mind there are a lot of additional bits of content going on all day everyday up and down La Croisette, and nearly every hotel beachfront has a sponsored party each night), but don’t expect to keep to everything.

There’s a lot to be said at this type of event for getting swept up with a crowd and going with the flow. It often ends up just as fortuitous. Word of warning however: be careful trying to sneak around the front of a party by way of the ocean – a guard dog or two might be there to greet you. I learnt that the hard way.

It’s ok to be the keen one

One of the enormous benefits of Cannes Lions is that the content each day is of such curated high quality. With big name speakers like Will Smith, Anna Wintour and Harvey Weinstein this year however, you’re not going to be alone in wanting to attend, so ensure you get there early. It’s even worth arriving for the session before to be safe.

Believe me, some of the experiences you gain you’ll speak about for life (anyone else remember Yoko Ono in 2010?), so these are the plans you should stick to, even if the sun is gloriously shining (let’s hope) and calling you back outside. Take some snacks and sit it out. Seriously, do take snacks, and a sweater to fend against the air conditioning.

Network on rosé

Once all is said and done each day, there are happy hours galore to choose from. If you’re not into rosé however, you might want to think again about heading to Cannes. Then again, if you have never tasted the rosé in Cannes, I guarantee you it tastes better than any other you’ve ever tried. I’ve heard people wax lyrical in the past about something to do with temperature, locality and the size of the bottle they order (it’s not unusual to see ones the size of small children paraded about with sparklers coming out the top), though I’m pretty sure it’s far more a product of the situation. Either way, you’ll quickly learn to accept it.

Similarly you’ll need to accept that the place to drink it is on the Carlton Terrace. It might be a mess pit of hundreds of people, making it feel like a slightly more formal version of a fresher’s party, but it’s the only place to head. The masses flock thereafter just around the corner to the Gutter Bar. Expect lots of advertising guys flaunting their Lions around like it gives them dating prowess, and yes more rosé on tap, but the best networking of my life was also here post 2am. Safe to say, it’s almost impossible to be the last one standing, though everyone gives it a good try.

Cannes Lions Gutter Bar
The infamous Cannes Lions Gutter Bar

Suck up the long hours

Given how busy every location is and how late each night gets, expect to be on your feet for a lot of it. Ladies, don’t even bother packing any heels. In fact, unless you’re fortunate enough to be staying in one of the hotels along La Croisette, don’t assume you’ll get to go home from the moment you leave your accommodation each morning (or afternoon). You’ll be a sweaty mess by nightfall, but no one will judge you for it.

On a plus note, all the bathrooms are beautiful in Cannes (apart from some of the beach ones) so it’s easy to freshen up if you throw some bits in your bag. Men, that goes for you too.

Don’t book early appointments

Seriously, just don’t. No one ever shows up other than perhaps on their first day, and cancellations over and over again get tiresome. Let’s face it, you’d rather be in bed too. Anything post 3pm is probably safest.

Bring the corporate card

That rosé I keep mentioning is in endless supply in Cannes, but needless to say so therefore are the credit card expenses. You will spend a lot of money while you’re there – it’s not unusual for a bottle of water to set you back 14 euros at the Gutter Bar and a slice of pizza in the region of 20 euros (honestly it’s often cheaper just to get the rose!)

If you’ve got a limit, eat and drink before you get there. Or better yet, buddy up with someone else with slightly looser purse strings. Rumour has it the ad industry is pretty good at that sort of thing.

If all else fails…

If you’ve gone hard, but you haven’t got as much content as you needed to and your boss back home is expecting a rundown of what was what, keep an eye both on here for daily coverage related to our industries, and on Twitter for live updates. I’m also going to be offering a series of seminars once back in London and a live event in early July (2016) that will cover highlights from the festival as well as insights into what they mean for the broader creative communications space over the year ahead. Stay tuned for more about that soon, or do shoot me a note if you’re interested ahead of time.

A version of this post first appeared on The Drum in 2015

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Editor's pick social media

Hunter launches World’s Smallest Festival, partnership with Giphy

World's-Smallest_Festival_Hunter-Boots
The World’s Smallest Festival, in place at the Hunter flagship store on Regent Street

Hunter is continuing with its promise to focus on festival-themed activations over fashion week shows, today launching “the World’s Smallest Festival” in its flagship store on London’s Regent Street.

Disguised as a portaloo – an ironic reference to the most-dreaded festival experience – the festival is in fact a GIF photo booth in collaboration with GIF library, Giphy. Users are able to take animated pictures of themselves before customising them with exclusive Hunter festival filters and stickers. Any shared online are in with a chance of winning a festival pack from the brand.

The portaloo is otherwise designed to feel like actually being inside a mini British festival – complete with grass, mud and live music. There will be secret festival product giveaways, including wet wipes, welly socks, ponchos and gift vouchers, in addition to a programme of pop-up performances.

 World's Smallest Festival Hunter
Inside the World’s Smallest Festival by Hunter

Hunter also hopes to capitalise on festival buzz once Glastonbury comes around this year. It will launch a series of limited edition filters and stickers in Giphy Cam, which is Giphy’s mobile GIF camera app for iOS, from Wednesday June 22. Anyone using the app, whether they’re at a festival of not, will be able to add exclusive Hunter content to their images. Again, those who share tagging @HunterBoots and #Beaheadliner on Twitter, will be in with a chance of winning Hunter festival products.

Earlier this year, Hunter held a Festival Summit that revealed insights including an 11% growth in festival-related Google searches year-on-year in 2015, as well as a significant spike in weather searches in the two days prior to Glastonbury. Research from JWT Intelligence, also showed that three-quarters of millennials in Britain attend at least one festival per year, and 76% of millennials would now prefer to spend their money on experiences over material possessions.

“The nondisposable moments at festivals carry so much weight: They are unforgettable, watertight, locked-down emotional memories that, as a brand, you want to access and be associated with,” said Alasdhair Willis, creative director at Hunter, during the summit. “The reach and commercial opportunity of festivals makes them a very serious business that would be foolish to ignore.”

The World’s Smallest Festival pop-up will be in Hunter’s Regent Street store from Thursday, June 9, until the end of the month, before travelling to other UK cities over the summer.

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e-commerce Editor's pick

On-demand fashion economy hits SXSW with Revolve x Postmates partnership

revolve_postmates

Online e-commerce site Revolve is teaming up with delivery service Postmates for a special festival-themed campaign during SXSW this year.

Acknowledging what they refer to as the “on-demand, instant-gratification generation that is changing fashion”, the initiative will see the retailer’s festival essentials collection available in Austin in under 60 minutes for a flat delivery fee of $3.99.

To put the relevancy of festival into perspective for Revolve: it made up approximately 20% of all sales during 2015. During SXSW therefore, it’s encouraging users to access the Postmates app or browse merchandise via Instagram to see it on various influencers, and immediately click to buy.

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Editor's pick social media

H&M X Coachella again, plans even bigger style and social media blitz

hm_coachella3

H&M had a major hit with its Coachella collaboration in 2015, and so the fashion retail giant is teaming up with the king of festivals again this year for a collaboration that takes in clothes, accessories and a social media blitz.

Its co-branded Coachella collection launches next month in US stores (March 24, with a sneak peek on March 23) under the hashtag #HMLovesCoachella.

As last year, H&M will have a pop-up shop on-site in the H&M tent where festival-goers can buy the collection, take a break from the heat, “and enjoy an interactive social experience,” we’re told. Although Coachella is sold out, for H&M’s social media followers, the retailer will be giving away festival passes and camping passes to the festival throughout March across its social channels.

hm_coachella1

And social media is key even for those not planning to go anywhere near a festival this year. The Coachella link is being heavily pushed in the digital locations H&M knows its youthful customer base will visit, as festival-type looks become as much of a general summer option as a festival one. That means a big push on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat via @HMUSA, and on Instagram via @HM.

So what does the collection actually contain? For girls, it’s about folksy blouses, beaded and fringed tops, allover print jumpsuits, denim cut-offs, and accessory essentials including floppy hats, sunglasses, and flat boots. Hemlines are short and embellishments are key. For the boys, there are printed T-shirts and mismatched shirts, bermudas, and denim shorts.

It looks like the offer is wider and deeper than the 2015 collection with H&M designer Ross Lydon saying: ”Last year, H&M was the first brand to team up with Coachella to develop a clothing collection. The success was so rapid and so widespread, we decided to partner again to create an even richer offering this season.”

hm_coachella2

This post first appeared on Trendwalk.net, a style-meets-business blog by journalist, trends specialist and business analyst, Sandra Halliday

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business Comment data Editor's pick technology

Cannes Lions 2015 – a recap of the top trends and big ideas

After seven days, over 300 speakers and more magnums of rosé than even the Carlton probably dares to think about, Cannes Lions has wrapped for another year. Whether you were stuck at home or just spent too much time on the beach instead, here’s a round-up of the trends to know about from the Palais for 2015.

canneslions_flags

Data and creativity

If there was one word used more than any other this week, it was data. This wasn’t just about debating the need for “analytics” or “insights”, or even repeatedly raising “big data” as a buzz phrase, but how we take the fact we know that’s happening and still combine and integrate it with our creativity.

Speakers referred to data as being the linchpin to creating more emotional content. They called for greater collaboration between the industry – from creatives to technologists – as a way of moving people’s hearts. Professor Brian Cox said: “Every creative person needs data to keep them rooted in reality.”

AI as the next big era

Spinning off from that focus on data came numerous references to artificial intelligence (AI) as the next big revolution in tech. Mike Cooper from PHD referred to us as being at “11.59pm on the eve of AI”. He highlighted that over $57bn has been invested in AI to date, and that number is increasing 60 per cent every year. “Success in inventing AI will be the biggest success in human history, and it may be the last,” he joked.

But Cooper also highlighted that this is going to lead to a radical reorganisation of marketing; that we will have to change from frontal cortex decision-making companies to algorithmic ones. “AI is not just heading for our industry, it’s going to pass right through our backyard,” he added.

Virtual reality and beyond

AI also made an appearance along La Croisette with a personal robot called Pepper winning visitors over, but elsewhere technologies grabbing attention largely surrounded virtual reality (VR).

Google Cardboard won the mobile Grand Prix, despite not being an actual mobile initiative per se, but an enabler for it. Speakers said there was no longer any doubt VR would be successful; the question more is when is it going to reach mass adoption?

SapientNitro introduced its new VR experience designed specifically for shopping. Created as a retail prototype, it’s an immersive piece of content that takes the user on a virtual journey to The Apartment by The Line store, in New York’s Soho. Success, said the team, comes down to storytelling.

New content formats

Creating content for VR might be one thing up ahead of us, but the here and now, according to Cannes Lions, is about big growth platforms including Tinder and Snapchat. Founders of both apps took to the stage to talk about creativity, new consumption habits, and how to be unique with what you do.

Sean Rad of Tinder said consumers arrive in the frame of mind that they’re willing to absorb content, and seemingly that includes content from brands. He called on the audience to create things that are new, exciting and unique, that will encourage users to swipe right and opt-in for relationships with them.

Calls to action

Further rally cries from the podium focused on calling upon the power of the audience and their own connections to help achieve greater goals. It was about public health from Jamie Oliver; poverty through to climate change from Richard Curtis and Sir John Hegarty; and cyber-bullying from Monica Lewinsky.

The latter referred to herself as “patient zero” in the new blood sport of viral online shaming. She asked the industry to help change that culture; to determinedly move away from a click-baiting model buoyed by public humiliation, where the media entities benefit from a revenue perspective, and the damaged individuals left behind are forgotten. It was one of the most powerful sessions of the week, and the only full standing ovation of the year.

Female empowerment

Gender equality was another big part of Richard Curtis and Sir John Hegarty’s Global Goals Campaign, a worldwide initiative aimed at raising awareness of the United Nations’ “to-do list for the planet”.

Women as a focus carried through the rest of the week too – from Grand Prix campaign winners like Always’ Like a Girl and Under Armour’s I Will What I Want, featuring Gisele, to yet more speakers on stage addressing the role of women. Meanwhile, actress Samantha Morton and Dazed founder Jefferson Hack introduced their Female Firsts Film Fund, which aims to help more female directors source funding for their first and second feature movies.

Vulnerability and naivety

Each year at Cannes Lions brings new schools of thought around how to inspire creativity. Failing fast, taking risk and creating white space for ideas have all been key buzz phrases in the past. According to experiential artist Emilie Baltz, this year it’s about going out to embarrass yourself. “Think about one place you feel vulnerable and try to do 1 per cent of it. Putting yourself in a place of that discomfort often means you’re there before others. It’s a place of innovation,” she said.

Ben Jones, CTO at AKQA, turned instead to inspiration from children. He urged the crowd to seek naivety, to ask questions, and to become a deliberate beginner.

Intention as the new authenticity

Pharrell Williams was one of the headline celebrity names on the schedule (Kim Kardashian, Will.i.am and Adrian Grenier being others), bringing with him a message about intention over anything else. He said intent should be the number one ingredient in any of your work. “It’s intention that makes consumers feel something,” he emphasised,

But it was Marilyn Manson, a man who chose his stage name, his look, wrote his autobiography and even booked his first venue before he had written a song, who spoke to authenticity more than anyone else. He reminded us there’s nothing more important than being real. “Consumers see through the fake faster than ever these days,” he explained.

This piece first on The Drum

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Comment Editor's pick

Tips and tricks for surviving #CannesLions

In no place is the saying ‘burning the candle at both ends’ truer than at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Especially if you’re a first timer.

With a week full of back-to-back meetings, endless high profile speakers, multiple Oscar-worthy award ceremonies, and enough parties, networking opportunities and bottles of rosé to sink any one of the hundreds of glamorous super yachts you will likely not be able to get on, the eternal quest for sleep is a futile one…

But why exactly would we want to do that anyway and risk missing the very best of this century’s Mad Men in their finest hour? Yes, you can expect to see ad land behaving badly, but so too will you feel you’ve just learnt, absorbed and experienced the very best of it all within the space of a week, not to mention in the luscious surrounds of the French Riviera.

By the end you’ll never be happier to go home again, but you’ll probably also want to come back next year. So here are some tips and tricks to help you get through it.

Cannesbeach

Take your prep with a pinch of salt

You’ll want to make a plan before you arrive. Know what’s ahead of you, whether it be seminars to attend or meetings to book. Figure out your game plan, RSVP to what you need to (bear in mind there are a lot of additional bits of content going on all day everyday up and down La Croisette, and nearly every hotel beachfront has a sponsored party each night), but don’t expect to keep to everything.

There’s a lot to be said at this type of event for getting swept up with a crowd and going with the flow. It often ends up just as fortuitous. Word of warning however: be careful trying to sneak around the front of a party by way of the ocean – a guard dog or two might be there to greet you. I learnt that the hard way.

It’s ok to be the keen one

One of the enormous benefits of Cannes Lions is that the content each day is of such curated high quality. With big name speakers like Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Pharrell Williams however, you’re not going to be alone in wanting to attend, so ensure you get there early. It’s even worth arriving for the session before to be safe.

Believe me, some of the experiences you gain you’ll speak about for life (anyone else remember Yoko Ono in 2010?), so these are the plans you should stick to, even if the sun is gloriously shining (let’s hope) and calling you back outside. Take some snacks and sit it out. Seriously, do take snacks, and a sweater to fend against the air conditioning.

Network on rosé

Once all is said and done each day, there are happy hours galore to choose from. If you’re not into rosé however, you might want to think again about heading to Cannes.

Then again, if you have never tasted the rosé in Cannes, I guarantee you it tastes better than any other you’ve ever tried. I’ve heard people wax lyrical in the past about something to do with temperature, locality and the size of the bottle they order (it’s not unusual to see ones the size of small children paraded about with sparklers coming out the top), though I’m pretty sure it’s far more a product of the situation. Either way, you’ll quickly learn to accept it.

Similarly you’ll need to accept that the place to drink it is on the Carlton Terrace. It might be a mess pit of hundreds of people, making it feel like a slightly more formal version of a fresher’s party, but it’s the only place to head.

The masses flock thereafter just around the corner to the Gutter Bar. Expect lots of advertising guys flaunting their Lions around like it gives them dating prowess, and yes more rosé on tap, but the best networking of my life was also here post 2am. Safe to say, it’s almost impossible to be the last one standing, though everyone gives it a good try.

GutterBar

Suck up the long hours

Given how busy every location is and how late each night gets, expect to be on your feet for a lot of it. Ladies, don’t even bother packing any heels. In fact, unless you’re fortunate enough to be staying in one of the hotels along La Croisette, don’t assume you’ll get to go home from the moment you leave your accommodation each morning (or afternoon). You’ll be a sweaty mess by nightfall, but no one will judge you for it.

On a plus note, all the bathrooms are beautiful in Cannes (apart from some of the beach ones) so it’s easy to freshen up if you throw some bits in your bag. Men, that goes for you too.

Don’t book early appointments

Seriously, just don’t. No one ever shows up other than perhaps on their first day, and cancellations over and over again get tiresome. Let’s face it, you’d rather be in bed too. Anything post 3pm is probably safest.

Bring the corporate card

That rosé I keep mentioning is in endless supply in Cannes, but needless to say so therefore are the credit card expenses. You will spend a lot of money while you’re there – it’s not unusual for a bottle of water to set you back 14 euros at the Gutter Bar and a slice of pizza in the region of 20 euros (honestly it’s often cheaper just to get the rose!)

If you’ve got a limit, eat and drink before you get there. Or better yet, buddy up with someone else with slightly looser purse strings. Rumour has it the ad industry is pretty good at that sort of thing.

If all else fails…

If you’ve gone hard, but you haven’t got as much content as you needed to and your boss back home is expecting a rundown of what was what, hotfoot it to my daily sundowner sessions on the beach. I’ll be chatting highlights from the festival at 5pm Sunday-Thursday (4pm on Monday) with David Davies, managing director of content at Lions Festivals, hosted by Time Inc CEO Joe Ripp. We’ll cover all the action from each day, the key talking points and the emerging common themes.

In short, you can consider this your Cannes cheat sheet. Needless to say, feel free to stick around for a rosé with me after too…

This post first appeared on The Drum