Core Media’s Young Lions Greg Ashe and Sarah Dennehy, share their experiences about entering the Cannes Young Lions and what has inspired them so far.

When we first arrived, it was roasting! We were feeling excited and wanted to have a walk around this picturesque French town. The main festival didn’t kick off until Saturday but we were eager to get down and get registered.

Walking from our hotel, we got the sense that Cannes is modern and extravagant but it retains its quaint character – buildings still have the old architecture and side streets with cobblestones. Upon arriving at the main Palais, we were instantly struck by the size of the festival. The Palais was a huge blue building supported by tens of smaller tents and function rooms. Registration was quick and we started to feel like part of the festival when we were handed our passes, festival packs, bags and t-shirt.

Curious to check out the surrounding area, we walked along the promenade and got a first-hand view of the amazing temporary structures that would only live for the week of the festival. YouTube & Facebook had their own beaches, concert stages and smaller cabanas. Arriving two days before the competition gave us time to settle and a chance to take the whole place in before the hard work began.

Getting the Brief

We sat in the briefing room, chatting about the types of briefs we’d love to get and were excited for the big reveal. 31 other countries were represented in the room and we really got a sense of the size of this competition. This year was the biggest turnout for the media category since the Cannes Young Lions competition started. We sat at the very front and as we chatted to two girls next to us, we realised that they were the client and were wearing their Amnesty International t-shirts. We were feeling positive about the client and couldn’t wait to be briefed.

All instructions and rules were presented to us and after a short Q & A we were ready to get stuck into the brief. We were tasked with finding a way to get millennials to write letters of support to people who have been imprisoned for fighting for basic human rights. We went to a bar and over a few beers in the sun, we began to tackle the brief. In fact, we analysed the brief and brainstormed for the entire afternoon. As two pretty stubborn people, you can imagine there was a huge amount of debate! But that was one of our main strengths when it came to our big idea. All of the debating led us to solid ideas that would withstand the worst of the grilling.

Time to Compete

The competition itself took place the following day from 8.30am – 8pm. We were given a designated PC in a room shared with all of the other teams. All of our post-its were put into slide form before being presented the following day. Throughout the answering of the brief, we were never overly stressed and made sure we took time to step away from the brief and to process our thoughts. The competition is really focused. It’s 48 hours with a clear structure and a clear ask. It’s intense, and a lot of time and energy went into developing our response but we never felt too drained until the very end. After presenting we needed a few rosé’s to calm down from the buzz we were feeling after delivering our pitch to the judges. Team UK won gold in our category and we were pretty disappointed not to win, but the whole experience was invaluable, eye-opening and something we’ve learnt so much from!

The Highlights

Inspirational Work: – Freddo Ice Cream’s virtual reality ice-cream, Axa’s Cost of not Insuring Yourself and Lego’s Build the Future all caught our eye.

Talks: – AIB & Rothco’s ‘If You Love it, Set It Free’. It was amazing to see our own client, AIB, on a world stage presenting a campaign that we’ve actually worked on. The presentation on ‘#TheToughest’ got multiple rounds of applause throughout and it was clear the audience were really excited by the story they told. There were other Irish representatives at the festival too – like Keith Barry. It was great to see the Irish playing such a part!

People We Met: – We met Wyclef Jean (see picture) and while we’re typing this, sitting on the Facebook beach, Halle Berry and her entourage have just walked by. Unfortunately, we weren’t quick enough to get a picture!


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