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Hosting a Cannes Lions Beach Party with Universal Production Music

Cannes Lions is the most iconic creativity and marketing awards festival that attracts world-renowned agencies in to convene in the French Riviera every June. Over 30,000 attendees fly into the south of France to gain insight on the creative industry, learn the latest advertising and digital marketing trends, and of course, enjoy all that this luxurious beach town has to offer. As we continue with our Expert Interview Series, we're headed straight for the waves as Elodie Levasseur, Head of International Digital Marketing Strategies for Universal Production Music shares what it's like hosting a Cannes Lions Beach Party. Let's dive in, shall we?

Universal Production Music at Cannes Lions

Universal Production Music helps bring stories to life with the power of music. They produce creative music, including scores for films, TV productions, music for commercials as well as record in the top studios around the world, including Abbey Road, to make an emotional and memorable auditory journey for their clients. Universal Production music is responsible for making a complete experience for loads of music content that you've consumed over the years without even knowing it was production music.

For 4 years now, Elodie has been making a name for Universal Production Music at Cannes Lions. As the Head of International Marketing Strategies, Elodie has more than just a few factors to consider when it comes to creating an enjoyable experience for invited guests from all over the world at their private beach in Cannes. For Universal, "Cannes Lions is a chance to put ourselves out there as a major global production music company. We make the most of this event by educating people to understand what production music is and that Universal Production Music has a brand of its own , as it’s division of Universal Music Publishing Group and Universal Music Group."

With past experience in major companies like American Express, Royal Caribbean, and founded projects of her own, IthinkDigital and The Girls Experience, Elodie and her team manage the Universal Production Music Cannes Lions Beach Party every year. During Lions, Elodie and her team welcome 600 important clients, partners, and guests during a 6-hour bonanza at their carefully-selected Cannes beach.

Universal Production Music Cannes Lions Beach Party

Choosing the Best Cannes Lions Party Venue

According to Elodie, like other event planners from Smart Adserver and the Dutch Embassy of Creativity, when getting started with the planning, the first thing to do is secure your venue and location. For Elodie and Universal, it's not about having the centre stage on the Croisette for their party venue. When we began chatting with Elodie about Cannes and how she goes about choosing where to have the event every year, she said it starts with putting herself in her client's shoes. She painted a beautiful picture that anyone who has been to Cannes will be able to identify with instantly. -If you haven't yet been to the paradise that is the French Riviera, her description of the ideal Universal Cannes Lions party location will surely get you excited for this upcoming June:

"When you come to Cannes, you don't want to be in a dark venue with no light and not being able to feel the fresh air. Cannes is about the beach, the waves, the sunshine, the sand, the mountains - enjoying the natural elements of the French Riviera. The best option for the Universal Production Music party at Cannes Lions was the beach. During Cannes Lions, we want to be known as the beach party destination for relaxing, decompressing, recharging and networking while listening to great music."

The benefits of hosting a party outside of the main beach centre are numerous, and Elodie was able to take advantage of each one. Hosting the Universal Beach Party at Le Bénitier Plage Cannes means "less traffic, but better traffic". By choosing a more remote and private beach, Universal is able to command the attention of their guests, have people come that they intentionally invited and who are excited to be a part of the beach party, and best of all, make the most of the trip to the Bénitier Beach by branding the transportation. Check out their brilliant idea of personalising mokes to get people from the centre of Cannes to their beach party!

Universal Production Music Cannes Lions Moke

They don't have to compete with overbearing music from their neighbours and therefore can provide a unique, relaxed, and wholesome experience for their guests. Last year at Cannes Lions 2018, they had live Universal Production Music musicians perform for beachside acoustic sessions with the rhythm of the waves.

"Our party is different in the sense that the atmosphere is really unique. We try to provide our guests with a relaxed space where they can enjoy drinks, games, the beach, the sun, and understand what we're all about: feeling the music. Music is a part of everyone's life, it touches everyone."

After asking Elodie about how they choose who plays at their events, she said the feedback related to music is highly important. Though people greatly enjoyed the beautiful sessions from Justyna Kelley and Jabu Morales last year, guests seemed to be more keen to chill out to DJ sets, like their performing DJ Bedrud. Elodie also mentioned that people were blown away by the impromptu set from the Universal Production Music General Manager from the German team! So much so that he's actually been asked to prepare an actual set for their Cannes Lions 2019 party! "One of the guest feedback from our post-survey event was ‘We want to see Marc again!’ – having our team DJing is also what makes the Universal Beach party unique", Elodie commented as she recalled his surprise performance from last year.

Performance by Justyna Kelley 

FYI - Universal just might be featuring one of the hottest up-and-coming DJs from the UK. Stay tuned for upcoming announcements in May, all you fans of the underground world of talented DJs.

As we continued to chat away with Elodie, we brought up that during events, problems are bound to arise, and we wanted to know what her greatest struggle was from last year. She smiled and admitted a great struggle for all party hosts at Cannes Lions is "making sure not to run out of drinks." Elodie shared a few statistics with us from the Beach Party last year that made our jaws drop initially. Then we remembered that this is Cannes Lions.

"Just to give you a rough idea of what it's like to manage the beach party, last year 5500 drinks were consumed behind the bar by about 600 people in just 6 hours."

We did the math for you with these outstanding numbers, and it turns out a lot of people have a serious drinking problem. Just kidding, 9 drinks on average per person is normal, right? When it comes to food and beverage, Elodie says to "always prepare for more than expected" The guests range from clients that Universal Production Music works with, as well as their +1s (or 2s or 3s), major advertising agencies, production and tech companies and more. It's about sharing the beauty of music (and Cannes, of course) and coming together to appreciate how music can have an impact on any production.

When it comes to maintaining a budget for up to 600 guests, Elodie also mentioned that oftentimes event planners will go slightly over budget. "Most of the time we go over budget between 4 to 6% usually. We always allocate extra budget to make sure we don’t go overboard. We do our best within our preliminary budget parameters and guarantee our guests will have an exceptional time."

Planning the Universal Beach Party

When it comes to these lucrative parties with generous budgets, there's no margin for wasteful expenses and errors due to a lack of planning beforehand. Elodie and her team, map out the guest journey (online and offline) in advance to ensure that their clients have an experience that they won't forget and will continue to talk about for weeks to come. The International team come up with a full Cannes Lions communication and promotion plan to work on every detail. The first order of business for the team is to "Have a clear set of objectives for the party with a brief, as well as set realistic expectations. We consider how we want our guests to feel and what kind of associations they'll make with Universal because of our presence at Cannes Lions." Elodie also mentioned the importance of feedback, their clients and also the Universal employees. The user experience for Universal at Cannes Lions is strategic, dynamic and a tangible representation of their brand for the world to see.

"From the very first update about our beach party to the follow-up thank you emails and surveys, we strive to have a solid, unique message and brand consistency throughout the process. It's really a whole journey of excitement to prepare our clients and guests for the event."

If you're keen to experience the Universal Production Music experience this year at Cannes Lions 2019, stay tuned for more details to come in May! Want to be updated immediately about all Cannes Lions Party List happenings? Click the pretty blue "Subscribe" button in the top right corner of the page and get ready to party hard this year!

Elodie, thank you so much for sharing what it's like to host such a killer Cannes Lions party! We'll see you at the beach in June!