Skip to content

First Impressions: Awards Ceremonies

Mike here again, this time with some commentary on the different awards ceremonies held to date here at the Cannes Lions festival.


View of the Grand Audi auditorium after the first Cannes Lions awards ceremony

The awards were one of the “pre-highlights” for me prior to arriving; given Cannes’ stature as the pre-eminent authority on advertising creative, I knew this was something I couldn’t miss, and I arrived in France with the full intention of getting into (/breaking into) as many of these as I could.

What I found surprising was how accessible they were to all attendees. Originally, I thought that us lowly common-folk (i.e. standard delegates) were barred from entering, but I later discovered that the awards are open to all – assuming you’re willing to endure the queue. After a modest investment in line of 20 minutes, we all secured seats near the back of the auditorium for the first awards night.

The first thing you notice as you ascend to the Grand Audi auditorium, the home of all the awards ceremonies, is the red carpet staircase. Being an authority on red carpets staircases, I can say that while this was hardly the most elaborate red carpet (it looked like it was grafted/built into the staircase somehow), you could almost feel the echoes to the glamourous companion festival of Cannes, being the Cannes Film Festival. I believe at one point I remarked how we were possibly walking up the same staircase as Brangelina, which is of course, like, totally awesome.

Probably the one thing that grabbed me the most during the awards was the passionate reactions to the creative. I’m used to seeing responses to work in small group contexts, like sharing YouTube clips with your friends, etc., but to see 3,000 people visibly react to advertising was, frankly, a little disarming – and something I’ve never witnessed before. You could feel the emotion in the air, similar to a really good cinema experience. I even saw fleeting moments of weeping at points from a few grown men in the audience, but their identities shall remain a mystery (What happens in Cannes, after all…).


Super-ballin’ stage setup – featuring a trippy optical illusion at the centre platform

We also saw multiple displays of fervent nationalism. During the 2nd awards night, a passionate fan in the upper balcony brought out a Mexico flag and proceeded to wave it profusely. Not sure if this flag was just some remnant World Cup merchandise that they decided to bring along with them to the awards, but it was great to see the passion nonetheless.

After a satisfying 2 hours of shiny hardware allocation, we made our way back outside to reality. As I walked down to the central promenade, I heard about 10 different languages being spoken at all points surrounding me. Amidst all of the craziness and excitement, that one single moment is something I know I’ll never forget, and a perfect capture of the global melting pot known as the Cannes Lions experience.

See all Ideas & Insights