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Julia Smith
Julia Smith 24 June 2019

Sober Revolution Comes to Cannes

So can you do Cannes sober? The answer was a resounding - yes! Here are my top ten highlights from my three days of sober partying:

Heading out to France, I had already clocked up 100+ days as a non-drinker, having decided that if one was never enough, have none. I was loving every aspect of being sober from the extra sleep, to the increase in productivity for my business and for my clients and the long list of benefits for me and my family. So I was feeling confident as I landed in Nice on Monday despite the fact that for the last four years, I drank no less than 15 hours of rose per day and survived on 5 hours sleep in two nights!

Julia-in-Cannes-(1).jpg

So can you do Cannes sober? The answer was a resounding - yes! Here are my top ten highlights from my three days of sober partying:

  1. Parasailing with Just Premium
  2. 7am cycle ride with Adobe, WPP, Index Exchange and Sublime Skinz
  3. Breakfast panels / meetings with TAG, ISBA, Impact and Channel Factory
  4. The many meetings at Cafe Roma and discovering they served alcohol free beer
  5. The Drum Arms / Cavai party and all their panels throughout the week
  6. Spotify party
  7. Digital Leading Ladies lunch on Riviera Beach
  8. Lunch with Outbrain on the M Plage
  9. Chris Evans breakfast show Havas Cafe with Appetite Creative
  10. Polpeo crisis simulation event with the Social Element

One particular stand out party sober moment was the Digital Leading Ladies lunch. As one of the co-founders, we hosted our annual lunch on Riviera Beach for 40 of the most senior women in digital. Surrounded by some of the most talented, interesting and entertaining women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, I was more than happy to enjoy their company and the atmosphere sober. I also had the pleasure of being able to remember every conversation afterwards too.

What was a surprise was the amount of other people choosing to party sober this year in Cannes. I met up with Sarah Helppi, Marketing Director - Ebay uk  who described her first sober Cannes to me:

“I started thinking about doing a dry Cannes when I booked 3 nights at Disneyland Paris with my daughter at the end of the week. For many people Cannes is up there with Christmas on the drinking calendar and I was no exception. However I knew a big week would leave me in poor condition for the family time I had planned. Each offer for rose was given a polite no thank you, one glass at a time. People began to be quite curious over the course of the week when I didn’t have any drinking stories from the day before and said no to free booze. Result? I noticed my meetings were all wildly productive. I came away from talks inspired. I spoke on a panel without a whack of anxiety beforehand. I met some fascinating people and had some surprisingly deep conversations (but also loads of superficial ones obviously). I nailed a big presentation back to our London office. I DJd a 900 person villa party. Most mornings started with a run and a swim in the sea. They ended at midnight without inhaling a pizza or saying anything regretful. I felt like I brought the real me to Cannes, and sobriety was my survival superpower.”

So as I headed to the airport after three days at Cannes Lions I thought about how to sum up experiencing Cannes sober and here it is. Last year I drank rose for 15 hours both days, had a blast and felt shocking. This year, I've drank non-alcoholic drinks for 15 hours, had a blast and felt great. I clocked up 70,000 steps in three days, made every meeting on time, hosted a lunch for 40 people, was surrounded by booze 24/7 and it just didn't bother me. I did hit the wall both nights at 10.30pm so missed the late parties, which was a shame but I saw, did and laughed just as much as last year..if not more.

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