Cannes diaries: 'The Lions is king. Period', says Sambit Mohanty

Guest Column: Mohanty, Creative Head, McCann Worldgroup, shares amidst all the razzmatazz, what one really waits for is their work to be picked up, to strike metal, and to be on stage

e4m by Sambit Mohanty
Published: Jun 23, 2022 8:41 AM  | 3 min read
Sambit Mohanty

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is being held after a hiatus of three years. After pandemic-induced zoom fests and far too long without hugs and hellos, we are finally back together again – to learn, to celebrate, inspire, and be inspired by each other. And from what I’ve seen of this event so far, its pre-eminent status as the global benchmark for creativity and effectiveness is fully intact.

Now, if you’re a first-time visitor to the festival, you tend to get carried away by the smorgasbord of experiences it offers. From enlightening talks by eminent marketing & advertising personalities in the Palais, to the schmoozing and partying on the beaches alongside the Croisette. From rubbernecking beautiful people to roses flowing copiously in the cafes dotting the seafront - it’s all part of the Cannes tsunami that just sweeps you off your feet. However, it’s not all fun and frolic in the French Riviera if you focus on the real reason why everyone’s there. The Cannes Lions. The Real McCoy. The holy grail of award shows. You either have it or you don’t. Even the mere mention of a shortlist sends one into paroxysms of pleasure – for you are, after all, competing with the best creative work in the world. Nothing else compares. No elephants, no zebras, no tigers. The Lions is king. Period.

So perception-wise, people may think you’re having the time of your life living it up at Cannes. But the reality is, amidst all the razzmatazz what one really waits for is one’s work to be picked up. To be shortlisted, to strike metal, to be on stage - that is the raison d’etre of one’s presence in this town. All the frenzy, delight, and gaiety is a mere distraction. Make no mistake, if your work isn’t finding a mention, Cannes can be the most miserable place on the planet. And if your work makes the cut, Cannes is the closest you get to heaven on earth. This place can make a grown man cry – whether from pain or pleasure is what you’ll find out inevitably. And so, one makes the pilgrimage to Cannes year after year, hoping for a miracle. It is a true triumph of hope over experience – you hope you win. That’s all there is to it really. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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