Look Outside the (Palais) Box to Bring Your Brand to Cannes

By Cassie Barnes, Client Director at Smyle

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending my first Cannes Lions and I was blown away (figuratively and from the weather) by the creativity and authenticity of the festival. The biggest thing that stood out was that the whole of Cannes became a playground for brands and industry leaders. From Google to TikTok, there were activations on beaches, hotels and even yachts, showing that the action wasn’t limited to the Palais.

Given its prestigious reputation, it can obviously feel intimidating for a first-time attendee and even more so for a brand looking to break into the scene. But it’s an important event on the calendar and certainly not to be missed. So, what can you do to ensure your brand stands out? Here are key insights following this year’s festival:

Look Outside the Palais
The hundreds of activations outside the Palais des Festivals are just as much of a draw as the main event, and it’s also where creativity flourishes as brands are vying for customer and attendee attention alike. Much like the World Economic Forum in Davos, the whole town comes alive, and every venue is an opportunity – with or without a badge.

Create “Wow” Moments
From the Palais to the Croisette, the buzz around an activation can often exceed a reputation. Rumours of secret artist performances at Spotify Beach were enough to send audiences rushing for a glimpse. Pinterest fully embraced this idea with “Manifestival”, which saw long queues starting early in the morning for tattoos, piercings, and tooth gems – no mean feat in a usually late-night party festival. Everyone is looking for something special, something that generates a buzz, so take risks and think outside the box to create truly original “wow” moments.

Aim for Authenticity
Cannes Lions trades the theatrics of global advertising for genuine, human connection. The relaxed atmosphere strips away formalities to spark extraordinary conversations and new ideas. Embrace the opportunity and get chatting with your customers, partners, and even competitors!

Welcome Creative Collaboration
Creative collaboration is a driving force at Cannes Lions, showing the power of partnership. Meta and KidSuper joined forces to develop the SuperStudio Reels activation, showing off Meta’s Reel capabilities whilst creating a fun experience that had a global reach. Snap’s Disney collaboration used AR and themed rooms to transport guests through the immersive worlds of Star Wars, Marvel, and Avatar. Partnering with like-minded brands or organisations amplifies your reach, elevates your stories and strengthens your presence.

Cannes Lions offers a world of opportunities for brands willing to think differently and pioneer creativity. If you challenge the norm and explore those possibilities, there’s no limit to what you Cannes do at Cannes.

Find out how Smyle can help your brand to be the talk of the town next year. Get in touch at