Cannes Lions has a lot going for it. The azure south of France location, the free-flowing rosé, the glitz and glamor, the yachts, the open access to the best and brightest in the industry and, of course, the awards.
But some people head to Cannes with dread in their heart and anxiety in their brains for a number of issues. It’s led to what some call “Cannesxiety,” which can be both unnerving and a motivator to do their best.
Cannexiety is something that stresses some agency and brand leaders. There is the idea that once you win, your clients expect more wins moving forward, and that if you’re a winning agency, you’re expected to stay at the top. There is even the pressure that, if you bring your best talent to the event, they could be poached by others.
Where did the term come from?
Ogilvy’s global chief creative officer Liz Taylor doesn’t claim to have coined the phrase, but she has been using it for years, and last year even made some swag with the term on it.
The phrase is something Ogilvy deputy chief creative officer Joe Sciarrotta and Taylor have bandied about for at least eight years. “Every year, we’ll ask, where’s your Cannesxiety level at?” Taylor told Adweek.
She likened it to a doctor’s office chart that uses emoji for pain levels. But rather than those who go with dread, Taylor and her team use Cannesxiety as a motivator to do their best work.
“It just became this thing that you could say to anyone and they would instantly get it—I feel you I know what you’re going through, because we feel immense pressure,” said Taylor, adding that she thinks it’s in the spirit of David Ogilvy and divine discontent—never satisfied, always more.
Taylor said that there is always pressure to do well at Cannes, but it’s not the end goal of why they push themselves to do their best work. What Cannes does is set a bar for the best of the best, a barometer of what the top campaigns are.
However, Taylor does admit that the pressures on agencies are mounting, especially when you consider all that goes into submitting, building case studies, doing PR behind the work and ultimately going through rounds of judging.