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If you've been to Cannes Lions, you'll have already heard of the legendary annual Captify Pool Party & BBQ. This is the party that everyone is sharing on Instagram, Facebook, and any other social media platforms where humble bragging is permitted, with captions like, "hard at work by the pool" or "currently networking in my swim trunks." If you weren't there last year, you certainly saw pictures and videos coming through on your newsfeed. Like a few other villa parties during Cannes, the annual Captify party is an event that people look forward to year after year. Unlike other villa parties at Cannes Lions, the Captify party has gained a reputation as being the best, and we can only compare it to the lavish parties hosted in The Great Gatsby for reference. We're sitting down with Laura Pleasants, Global Director of Marketing and PR at Captify, as she spills the secret to successfully hosting the epic Captify Pool Party & BBQ at Cannes Lions.
Today we have the incredible pleasure of welcoming Laura Pleasants as our final interviewee of the Cannes Lions Expert Interview Series. Laura has been at Captify for almost 4 years, and when she first joined on, they had a very small team and were hosting their Cannes Lions party for the first time. In the past 4 years, she's grown their marketing department to a global team of 11, and Cannes Lions is now their biggest event of the year. Although their party is planned just 3 months in advance, their global marketing team is strategising and discussing the event all year round. If we're being honest here, everyone is talking about their party all year round.
Before Captify, Laura has worked in several spheres of marketing and PR with a wide range of companies, such as AerLingus, IgnitionOne, Amscreen Ltd, Solar Media, and others. The Captify Annual Pool Party & BBQ is truly a team effort, with people from different specialisms bringing unique skills and fresh ideas. This explains why the Captify Villa is executed so brilliantly every year."We don't actually have a need for someone dedicated strictly to events because we've got such a solid team, and I'm really proud of what we are able to create together."
Captify is the global leader in Search Intelligence. Captify’s actionable insights play a crucial role for brands and advertisers; revealing macro world trends, consumer interests, real-life behaviours and intent signals.. Basically, Captify is any marketer or advertiser's new best friend. Captify has a global presence with offices in NYC, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, London, Paris, Madrid, Milan, Manchester and Kiev, and provide services for major clients such as, Amazon, Adidas, Apple, American Express, BMW, Barclays, eBay, Microsoft, Unilever, P&G and more.
Captify differentiates itself when it comes to organising their Cannes Lions party every year. Their pool party is hosted on a massive 25,000m2 estate, situated just 15 minutes from Cannes. When we asked Laura what their approach to creating an atmosphere at the Captify estate that matches their brand during Lions, she mentioned that their approach is atypical to the ad tech industry norm.
"From our side of things, we are a B2B ad tech company that operates more as a B2C brand in terms of our marketing style. Cannes is a visual representative of us as a brand - we don’t reflect the traditional ad tech look and feel. For us it’s about exuding personality and getting our people across as our brand. Captify is made up of great people, and that's a major asset of our company."
When it comes to any sort of event or party planning, we know firsthand the struggles that can arise due to unforeseen situations, last-minute disasters, managing logistics, and small details that make a big difference which occasionally fall through the cracks. That's not happening on Laura's watch, because she has literally already planned that far ahead. Laura let us in on a little trick that she and her team use every year to make the Captify villa party bigger and better each year.
To take you through a day in the life of planning for a Cannes Lions party, Laura shared a few major and minor details that she her and team run through annually. First of all, they do a party simulation and run through the party details from A-Z. "It’s about testing everything yourself. The smaller details are the ones that can make a good event a bad event. For example, the shape of the glass was one of our latest minute-detail discussions. We learned as well that food that's easy to consume plays a huge part on comfortability and enjoyment."
When it comes to running the party simulation, Laura's eagle-eye for detail comes in very handy. In order to fully understand how a guest will experience the party, Laura likes to test out the party on fresh eyes. This requires multiple site visits to the villa in Cannes, as well as different paths for their guest's journey experience.
Captify Villa in Mougins
"I literally walk through the event as if I’m an invited guest. I'm very keen on visuals, so we do a big customer journey, from the moment they board the bus to leaving the villa. You need multiple site visits in order to get the proper feel for the experience, and not to mention, the small bits that you pick up on. You’ll have these aha-moments where you realise things like 'oh we haven’t got a cloakroom!' which is super important for clients coming in directly from Nice Airport."
The marketing department isn't the only one who is responsible for such a strong communication flow, however. "Marketing are there to drive the goals, we all collaborate together across our different teams. It's not about marketing do their job alone, it's about collective collaboration across the different departments."
Here are 15 of the most luxurious villas and penthouses in Cannes for your next swanky Cannes Lions event.
Getting your hands on an invitation feels a little something like opening a present. This year, just 2 days after the Captify Pool Party & BBQ announcement went live, 800 people registered on their website to request an invitation. You know it's going to be absolutely epic, but you're not quite sure what to expect exactly. Though the party attracts around 700 people to the villa every year for the past 4 years, they cannot accept everyone in Cannes.
"Cannes Lions for us is an opportunity to offer meaningful dialogue to clients, partners, potentials, and even our competitors. Normally what happens is events are restricted to potential clients, the guest list is restrictive, and the audience is very targeted. The marketers have a very strict direction to get new business and there’s a very traditional B2B experience. In essence, you can’t come in unless you're proving to be a valuable direct asset to the hosting company. We opt for a more inclusive and collaborative environment, which has, in return, made our party so talked about over the years."
Captify is focused on making a valuable and worthwhile experience for their guests, and competitors too, for the sake of adding value to the dialogues taking place on the premise of their Pool Party & BBQ. According to Laura, a couple of major factors to the success of their party is being mindful of others, communicating instructions clearly, and securing their venues as far as a year in advance.
"In a traditional Cannes calendar you have 4-5 events, and competition is high so you have to add an element of value for the guests. The dichotomy of the Cannes audience consists of veterans and a flood of new blood who have never been. This makes for a need to communicate heavily to both audiences, so we prioritise this in the hopes of helping our guests, as well as helping with our attendance rate. Being mindful of other marketer's schedules helps both their events as well as ours."
Have you left your calendar free on Tuesday, June 18th for the Captify Pool Party & BBQ 2019? Consider yourself informed.
Upon asking Laura how she was planning on outdoing last year's villa party, she responded humbly and shared that receiving feedback is the trick to improving anything. Laura recognised that last year was a brilliant event, but there will always be room for improvement, and events can always be more enjoyable.
“It’s easy to look at last year and say we had a smash hit, but the important factor is to digest information and ask what was missing and what can we add this year. Kicking things up a notch is about asking for feedback.”
Ask and you shall receive. Laura and her team devised a strategic plan to get feedback from their satisfied guests, who somehow managed to give points for improvement for next year's pool party & BBQ. This year, as per the request of the guests last year, there will be more content and panels, creating a more intentional meeting area for people to have private meetings, and a more diverse music scene at the villa. The content for Captify is going to be a major focus at the party in order to achieve one of their main goals: to have people leave their villa feeling inspired.
"This year we will have 8-9 different panels going on to offer a complete day for our guests throughout the duration of the event. We’ll have marketing visionaries share their knowledge, followed by more lighter and inspirational content. If you’re asking people for their time, you have to deliver content that is timely. We're expanding in terms of content themes this year, but it should always be brought back to what Cannes is all about - creativity."
Their objectives and expectations are clearly marked and set before the party every year. Their aim is to build strong partnerships, increase brand awareness, maintain their reputation, as well as other more tangible and sales-driven objectives. Apart from professional motivations, Captify is very focused on getting involved in the local scene at Cannes for multiple reasons. For Laura, a major one is the importance of giving back to the community. "We literally take over Cannes for a week, and the least we can do is give back to the people who receive us so welcomingly. It’s about bringing suppliers who understand our vision on the journey with us, not just assigning them with a set of tasks and finishing the job. We're fortunate to have found such great partners."
If you're still looking for a last-minute venue for your upcoming Cannes Lions party, get in touch and we'll send you a free venue proposal, no strings attached.
The priorities are all aligned for Captify and their motivation behind planning their luxurious party in the hills of the neighbouring village, Mougins. "It’s really about making it an interesting event by exposing people to the local cuisine, the local culture, and of course, local rosé." Right you are, Laura. In case you didn't know, last year the drinks were flowing endlessly as the barman tucked away under the swimming pool's miniature waterfall made refreshing cocktails, perfectly chilled rosé, and bright orange Aperol Spritz'.
Laura and the dynamic team at Captify have created a legend behind their event through extensive planning, clear communication, and of course, knowing how to host a darn good party. This year you can expect more music, more content, more mingling, and a killer art-deco themed villa. Laura also may have mentioned that they're whipping out an original 1940s Thunderbird from the garage to accompany the art-deco vibes.Long live the Captify Pool Party & BBQ!
They'll be capitalising on their massive Mougins estate by opening up the following various intentional spaces for their guests: the pool (bring your swim trunks), the Brand Innovators stage for panels and fireside chats, the parlour meeting area, the bbq area (come hungry), the music zone, the namaste garden, the tennis area, as well as the branded Captify buses that run all day to and from Cannes to Mougins.
Akommo at the Captify Villa Party Cannes Lions 2018
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Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us, Laura! Can't wait to catch up again in Cannes with a glass of chilled rosé in hand.