From May 10-19th, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a participant and contributor to the 69th Annual Cannes Film Festival with a mighty team of seven at Elan Edelman and a team of 100+ from one of the world’s leading beauty brands and long-standing partner to the Festival.
To say that the 10 days I spent at the Festival were a whirlwind would be an understatement. Never had my life been organized into 15-minute intervals for 12 hours a day, every day and I doubt it ever will be again. If you’ve ever been privy to the ins-and-outs of event planning, you know that things can and will almost undoubtedly go wrong, off-schedule or not at all! Now amplify that for 10 days in one of the most publicized and celebrity-filled events of the year and you’re starting to get a vision into the backstage life at Cannes.
While it seems like light years away now, my experience at Cannes will have a lasting imprint on me. Here are my "Three C" moments from the Festival:
- Comradery: The best thing I have walked away with from this experience, is the bond that I inevitably built with our client and my new colleagues. Being on your feet for 14 hours a day, sleeping each night at 1 a.m. and waking up for 7 a.m. team meetings, dealing with high-expectations, scheduling issues, cancelled media interviews, last-minute interview requests, spokesperson particularities and more, for 10 days in a row, is enough to send even the brightest of souls to a dark place. Somehow knowing that we were all – client and agency – in this whirlwind together, all working towards the same goal, is a trusting and bonding experience like no other. Walking out of my experience at Cannes, I have built stronger client relationships and a solid bond with colleagues in Paris that I will cherish far beyond the end of my Fellowship.
- Celebrity: They’re just like us! No, but really. Many of us (myself included), follow and often, idealize, the daily lives of celebrities, in search of a common interest, a relatable habit, a similar way of looking at the world that will connect us to them in some meaningful way. Over the 10 days, I watched fans cry, scream, claw over barriers and try and break into hotel rooms in search of this connection. There are extreme cases, of course, but over the course of the Festival, spending long days accompanying some of the world’s most renowned celebrities, helped to break down the barrier between “us” and “them” we all create that doesn’t need to exist. We, as a collective, form, make and sustain celebrity in its current chaos. They’re exactly the same as you and I – they just have a larger stage for their lives to play out on.
- Capability: Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new is the basis of the Fellows program at Edelman. With my historical career and experience background being so heavy in health, this experience (pre, during and post) has been a baptism by fire into the world of beauty and particularly, the makeup industry. It has opened my eyes and taught me so much about how client relationships and management differ from one industry to the next (personalities, expectations, measurement goals, etc.) and also gain a better understanding of what skills and strengths I have that are transferrable and applicable in any industry.
My experience at Cannes can never be duplicated and the wisdom and learnings I walk away with, will last a lifetime.
Alexandra Fahmey is an account manager, client strategy in health and is currently stationed in Paris from Toronto as part of the DJE Global Fellows Program. Follow her on Instagram @alie_in_paris.