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It opened my eyes to the full breadth of creativity in advertising around the world.

Reflecting on my time at Cannes Lions Festival

A collage Of Jade's Cannes Lion festival pass and other items

Jade Chen (Art Direction, 2024)

I think most of the industry would consider the Cannes Lions to be a sort of World Cup of advertising awards, and I was enormously lucky and privileged to have been able to be a part of its 2023 iteration. The festival itself was surreal and thrilling, and also a huge learning experience in terms of how it opened my eyes to the full breadth of creativity in advertising around the world.

I was a participant in the Roger Hatchuel Academy, which is one of the academies underneath the Cannes Lions School umbrella. It’s specifically geared toward undergraduate and graduate students, and as one of its 36 attendees, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to hear from a selection of incredible speakers: creatives, strategists, and business leaders. While their presentations were interesting and motivating, I felt like I actually learned the most from my fellow classmates—creative aspirants and fellow students from around the world, whose stories, passions, and dreams inspired me deeply.

Additionally, my experience made me reflect on the gratitude I have for my Brandcenter education—certainly, I would not have been in Cannes without it, and I also felt that it prepared me to make the most of the festival. I still have another year left of the curriculum, but even half a Brandcenter degree taught me to have a better sense of what types of questions to ask Academy guest speakers and how to connect effectively with the festival delegates I would run into over the course of the week. Importantly, what I’d learned at Brandcenter helped me stay focused and grounded: I always knew exactly what I wanted to achieve over the course of the week. (And believe me when I say that the program’s reputation is REAL—people would literally point at my badge and go, “Hey, Brandcenter!”)

Seeing Spike Lee speak at the Palais, socializing with fellow creatives into the wee hours of the morning at Gutter Bar, grilling the CCOs of GUT Miami (indie agency of the year!), and walking along the Croisette as the sun set over the Mediterranean, I come away from Cannes with so many memories but also so much inspiration. Short of an actual Lion, I feel like that’s the most important thing you can take back from the festival as a junior creative. I’m excited to carry this experience forward with me in my remaining year at Brandcenter and into my career.