Cannes Lions Diaries Avnie

“The Sky really is pink”: Top three highlights of Cannes Lions 2023

Cannes Lions through the eyes of the youngest Salonniere

By Avnie Bansal

In its second year at Cannes Lions, Creative Salon took its intern Avnie Bansal to the Festival for the week. Bansal, a student at the London School of Economics who came from India to the UK last year, has been working part time at Creative Salon as an intern. The idea to have Bansal at the Cannes Lions Creativity Festival 2023 alongside the Creative Salon founders Claire Beale and Sonoo Singh was born out of two very clear ambitions that the business had when it first launched - to showcase and celebrate the power that commercial creativity has to drive business growth and to fuel the economy; and to help secure a strong future for the advertising and marketing industries by doing whatever we can to nurture the next generation of diverse talent.

Following is Avnie Bansal's personal account of her experience of the Festival and the creative industry.


As a person who has finally started calling the world of advertisement and media as my own, attending the 70th Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was like taking off my rose-coloured glasses and seeing the sky actually is pink.

There was awe, there was inspiration, there was sand in the air and of course, there was pomp and jazz. But, I always knew the industry comes with that. Cannes just takes up all that jazz to a whole new level. 

As an intern, finding myself smack in the heart and soul of the industry, surrounded by people, work that is best of the best, not just from the UK but all around the world - it sent me into a whirlwind. I can feel it even now. But, I like to think I embraced it with open arms and tried to hold it all together. 

Each day and the next, so much to do, so much to explore, so many people to meet, so many conversations to have - and that’s how I took it, one day at a time. 

When one of the jurors asked me “What have been my top three highlights of the festival so far?”, totally not putting me on the spot, this is what my heart said tout de suite.

The Latitude and Longitude of the Festival

The biggest thing that hit me, right from day zero, was the latitude and longitude of the festival. Not just the Palais or the red carpet or the Marina with all the yachts that take you to even bigger ships, but the entire length of the Croisette with the branded beaches from META, Spotify, Inkwell, Google, WPP and the heritage hotels The Martinez, The Carlton, The Majestic, The Marriott - all decked up for the festival.

A festival to celebrate what we do, applaud the good and parley for the future is absolutely brilliant.

The most interesting people, the most interesting conversations

True to the Salon maxim, I believe being a fly on the fall is the fastest way to thrive and learn. And I got to do that plenty in Cannes. Talking to people, some who were there for the first time like me, and some who have been coming to the festival for more than two decades - it was beyond fascinating to pick their brains. And this I think can only happen in Cannes - I was talking to junior creatives one moment and then talking to global CEOs of the big networks - there really is no scarcity of “wow” moments in Cannes. 

Right at our Salon, overlooking the azures of the Mediterranean, we hosted 60 wonderful CMOs with EssenseMediacom for brunch. Starting the day right with impactful conversations with women all around the world and working towards bringing purpose back to the brands and just seeing everyone take everything in - as a young female that was hugely inspiring. 

Being part of a round table discussion with Weber Shandwick Global and their healthcare clients, discoursing about issues surrounding women's health and ways to deal with it, and actually being part of the discussion - now I had never imagined I would ever be doing that.

It also made me feel very good about the industry. It makes you feel important, the work we are doing matters. We are of course not saving lives, or doing groundbreaking research but “no purpose is small.”

The infinite possibilities

Being in Cannes amidst people who bloody love the work they do - all I needed to do was be a sponge soaking everything in. It opened my eyes to the infinite prospects we have tapped, and the vast opportunities that remain untapped. While AI, inclusion, and accessibility dominated the talks, what struck me the most was how seamlessly they were part of the festival which just showed how easy it will be to make these part and parcel of our industry. 

“We felt the same way about social media coming into our lives in early 2000’s, like you are feeling about AI today,” said a senior industry leader during one of the many conversations I had.

With the Cannes Lions App in hand, I tried to lunge at every possible experience I could. From collecting merch to being part of cool installations, META Reels and making TikToks at The Carlton. There’s really just one thing I did not end up doing (Hint: Spotify) But we could hear A$AP rocky from our balcony anyway. 

Evenings at Cannes mostly ended up on a beach celebrating with our agency partners. 

FCB turned 150, Publicis’s Marcel turned 5. They were spent meeting, greeting, sipping rosé, and enjoying the last bits of the sun for the day. When people asked me, “How’s my first Cannes going?” “Loving it, living it” were the first words out of me and it was oh so true! 

Truly lucky to have experienced the festival with my incredible bosses, who together have been attending the festival for far more years than I have been alive (they clearly started when they were 5!), and I could live the Festival through their eyes and fully embrace everything that the festival had to offer. 

And come Friday, there was so much to take back. While my bags were stuffed with souvenirs and merchandise that I picked up from all around the Festival, my heart was full of a renewed sense of excitement and love for the work we do. So stimulated. So giddy! I am positive the tiredness did not hit me until we entered the British airspace. 

And then I was out for the weekend. 

You were truly a sight to behold Cannes Lions. Thank you. It was quite an experience. I’ll see you when I see you! 


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