A Party Guru’s Guide to Cannes Lions 2016

June 16, 2016 / Features

By Sophia Melvin

Party Guru Sophia Melvin's tips on this year’s hottest parties and secrets on how to get those all important wristbands.

So let’s get real, we don’t make our annual pilgrimage to the French Riviera to gracefully chassé along the Croisette, nor do we travel all that way to sit through an awards do (we do enough of that in London and the struggle is already real). The truth is we go out there to get absolutely shit-faced in the name of new business and attempt to attend every party physically possible.

The party list is as long as the Croisette itself this year, so “Which parties should I be seen at and can you help me get an invite Sophia?” I hear you cry! Never fear. Here’s a bit of advice from me to you on how to get your mitts on those all-important wristbands and where to be seen in 2016…

Disclaimer Alert! I apologise profusely in advance to anyone mentioned in this article that may get inundated with emails and calls from their new best friends.


Little Black Book Beach

I wouldn’t describe the LBB Beach as a wild party, but this little beauty is literally your baguette and butter. It’s the perfect hotspot for networking and to have a sober conversation with high-profile sorts before they’ve had one too many glasses of rosé. So for me, it’s a must!

Likelihood of gate-crashing: 3/10
Ms Katherine Peach won’t be too peachy towards you if your name isn’t on the door. Yes, our friends at LBB have zooped up their security measures this year; so freelancers, you better get looking through the LBB directory and be very nice to the reps of their subscribers.


Iconoclast, Cannes Lions Funfair

The Iconoclast villa party was off the charts last year. Trust me, if you made it up there you probably don’t remember much… but that’s the sign of a great night, right?  So naturally they’ve raised their game with a funfair theme this year (who doesn’t love a good theme?) and I don’t know about you, but I’m seriously intrigued by the lucky ducks on the invite!

Likelihood of gate-crashing: 6/10 
They’re a super fun, friendly bunch and if you arrive with a magnum of rosé as a distraction, who’s gonna turn you away girl?

Shots Beach Party

Again, a firm favourite, with the likes of Charli XCX DJing in previous years and 2015’s showdown topping all expectations – So I have seriously high hopes for the Shots Beach Party this year. As always it’s great for seeing an excellent mix of the glitterati you struggle to book meetings with and your favourite people to dance alongside (Jonas, I will see you there my friend…) so get your paws on those wristbands! Oh, and one of Cut+Run’s rising stars Chris Hutchings edited the Beach Party Showreel, so keep an eye out for that little bit of magic whilst you’re schmoosing and raving (yes, I know that was shameless plug for one of my boys, but that’s my job!).

Likelihood of gate-crashing: 4/10
Strictly limited to subscribers, but I managed to wangle a few extras at the wristband collection desk last year… So be nice to Lucy (because Lucy is awesome) and if you manage to get hold of some extras, use them as a solid trade for other wristbands you’ve been unsuccessful in obtaining.


Rushes Beach Party

It wouldn’t be Summer without their BBQs, it wouldn’t be Christmas without their carolling, so it definitely wouldn’t be Cannes without their beach party! It’s certainly a good ‘un for seeing those familiar faces and never appears to suffer from the rival and slightly more exclusive MassiveMusic party further down the beach. With decades of practice Rushes never fail to bring their A-game to the Riviera, so it’s deffo a win win.

Likelihood of getting a wristband: 9/10
The gals at Rushes are the kind that all reps love and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Emailing info@rushes is said to be the key if you were inadvertently missed off the list.


Saatchi & Saatchi Beach Party

Firstly, I would just like to personally apologise to a lovely lady at Saatchi’s (who for all intents and purposes we’ll name Jane) for the misunderstanding. Jane, you honestly were the contact I was given to get some names on the list and I’m eagerly awaiting your response… This jamboree is 100% a hotty, which will, as always, be overflowing with fine wine and the industry’s top creatives. So feel special if you got an invite to this baby.

Likelihood of gate-crashing: 1/10
If you’re not on the list, you’re not coming in… right, Jane?


Finger Music Pool Party

Finger Music were sorely missed during their Cannes hiatus last year, so you shouldn’t dip out of their highly anticipated pool party this year. Promising super-sick tunes and a complimentary shuttle bus departing from gutter bar on the hour, every hour from 1pm, your day is sorted (I have the gorgeous Ewa to thank for this invitation… Thanks Ewa!).

Likelihood of getting a wristband: 0/10
Already rumoured to be at full capacity, getting a wristband at this stage will be as tricky as getting your hands on a Gold Lion – But if you’re feeling confident, you could try your luck at jumping on the shuttle?


CHI & Partnership Yacht Party

Oh yes, it’s a yacht party! I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m being transported back to the glamour of Don Draper’s Mad Men advertising days. It’s a very exclusive guestlist, but I hear that CHI are going out in full force, so keep an eye out for that copywriter you met at the APAs three years ago who you thought you’d never speak to again… You may need them now my friend.

Likelihood of gate-crashing: 1/10, or how good are you at swimming?
Definitely not one to miss, so get your breaststroke practice in at Shoreditch House this weekend….and FYI, Johnny is your man when it comes to names on the door.


Skunk Ring The Alarm Party

These guys have really woken up and smelt the coffee this year, what with the opening of their shit-hot London office already causing a stir, they’ve also gone and organised their party for the Friday night… Hallelujah!

Likelihood of gate crashing: 8/10
It’s a pretty hot ticket to get hold of this year, but my sources tell me that this pardy has been organised by their US Office… so who’s going to prove that you haven’t worked with their UK team in the last month?  Game faces on kids and I think you’re in!


Tropicool Afterparty

They don’t call it Tropi-COOL for nothing. Rumoured to be one of the coolest events of 2016, this is what happens when the world’s two favourite reps - Georgie and Attilio - come together and just want everyone to have a bloody good time. With DJ sets from Miss G herself, it’s going to be a Cannes cracker if last year is anything to go by.

Likelihood of gate-crashing 9/10
Firstly, because they’re über cool and when they say they want everyone to have a good time, they mean everyone! Secondly, it’s an intimate venue, so you could casually slip yourself amongst the over-flow of smokers outside if you’re desperate, which you should be, because you’ll want to be there.  Anyone who’s anyone will be there.


Grey White Carnival Party

Last year’s most talked about party during the Cannes comedown; this shindig is probably the most anticipated of the entire calendar. After experiencing their 50 Shades of Grey Party in 2015 (and it really was an experience) I’m confident that their White Carnival themed gathering on the JW Marriott rooftop is destined to be Avant Garde.

Likelihood of gate-crashing: 5/10
I’m split down the middle on this one. Last year it was a definite 10/10 with security as scarce as it was at the England v Russia match the other night – indeed the rooftop filled to capacity within the hour and the Grey employees couldn’t even get in!  It’s guaranteed to be trickier to get in unannounced this year, but the silver lining is that our pals at Grey used Eventbrite (my favourite) to send out their invites, so it’s fairly easy to RSVP (there’s even a plus 1 dropdown ***squeels***).


Agile Rooftop Fiesta

Following on from their killer villa party last year with a rooftop soiree in 2016, Agile certainly know what they’re doing. Promising breath-taking views, a refreshing gin and tonic bar, as well as bottomless fizz, this laidback, afternoon fiesta certainly sounds inviting. I’m so game!

Likelihood of gate-crashing: as low as 1/10
It’s an exclusive event, in a secret location on the Friday, so you’ll need an insider to get into this shizzle... but I’m pretty sure if you bring a script along with you, you’re in babes.


MassiveMusic / MediaMonks Beach Party (ExperiMMMMental)

It’s at times like this that I salute the RSVP contact. Charles, you drive a hard bargain and Paul, he’s doing a great job at keeping your guest list truly exclusive! So feel special if you’ve got one of these, it’s really is a postcode lottery!

Likelihood of gate-crashing 4/10
Last year, I managed to get 9 of us in who weren’t on the list, without selling my soul to the devil (apparently I have a way with doormen), so my advice would be to find out where they’re handing out their wristbands and act the dumb rep who’s just doing her job.


APA Location Guide Soiree

Last, but by no means least, I have to mention the APA Location Guide Soiree. This isn’t one for the killas and hundred dollar billers, but it’s a delicate sanctuary tucked safely between the furors of the Cannes apocalypse. It’s an absolute must-attend and the perfect place to mingle with CEOs and the world’s biggest Agency Producers – so if you really want to do your job out there reps, this is the place to be.

Likelihood of gate-crashing 3/10
Again, it’s exclusive to APA members and the guestlist is already closed… So be very VERY nice to Steve if you still fancy your chances. Which reminds me, Steve my lovely, I have a favour to ask you…

I leave you with my 2016 Cannes gate-crashing motto… Quand on veut, on peut… See you in Cannes peeps.


Sophia Melvin is the PR and Sales Rep for Cut+Run.

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