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Cannes 2019: The Havas Café Turns 13

Cannes 2019: The Havas Café Turns 13

Sulaiman Beg

Sulaiman Beg

June 5, 2019

Havas Group’s Lorella Gessa shares the story behind the Group’s “home” at Cannes Lions.

"Over the years, the Havas Café has become an established brand and we are very proud of it."

The Havas Café has become a fixture on the Croisette during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Each year, the café hosts over 3,000 clients, prospects, partners, press, and celebrities, offering them a place to meet and take in thought-provoking discussions during the day and enjoy music and socializing in the evenings.

Havas Group’s Chief Communications Officer Lorella Gessa shares the story of her “brainchild” and how it’s grown in the years to meet the needs of the festival.

You started the Havas Café 13 years ago. How did the idea to create a space for Havas Group on the Croisette come about?

I wanted to create a “home” for all the people from Havas who were traveling to Cannes from all over the world for the Lions: a place where we could all meet, network, talk business, organize meetings, welcome clients, meet the press, and have fun. I also wanted to provide a space where journalists could comfortably write and share their articles thanks to free WiFi, and where clients coming to Cannes could feel entertained and welcomed. The CEO at the time liked my idea and the rest is history.

At the time, no other communications group was doing anything outside the Palais, so we were pioneers in the fringe programming during the Lions and became “visible.” Over the years, the Havas Café has become an established brand and we are very proud of it.

The Café has grown a lot over the yearswhat can people expect at the Café this year?

Yes, we get bigger and bigger every year! When we started 13 years ago, it was on the small terrace of a nightclub on the Croisette. Then we moved to a bigger terrace at the InterContinental Carlton Cannes Hotel, and in 2012 we moved to the beautiful gardens in front of the Le Grand Hôtel where our two pop-up structures measure over 600m2 (~6,500 square feet).

This year we will be offering a meaningful Cannes experience to all our stakeholders and will be organizing events and activations that illustrate our creativity in all its forms. Cannes Lions has evolved a lot over the years, but, in my opinion, creativity has to remain the central focus. Some of our highlights this year include a VIP evening with actor and musician Jeff Goldblum, a performance from comedian Sebastian Marx, the Havas Party with KCPK, a press update with Havas Group Chairman and CEO Yannick Bolloré, and on Tuesday The Annex will be taking over the main stage space for a day of surprises.

"I believe in the power of entertainment and its natural convergence with the world of communications."

How has the partnership with Vivendi reshaped the Café?

We are bigger and better since joining Vivendi and so is the Havas Café.

During the 2017 Cannes, we announced we were joining Vivendi. The Havas Café is the perfect place to showcase the power of our grouplast year, we created an extra space dedicated to entertainment where we showcased all the other Vivendi assets, including performances by James Bay, Jessie Reyez, and Tank and the Bangas.

This year, we are adding a Vivendi corner where our guests will be able to listen to music from Universal Music Group artists, watch TV series from Canal+, read books or listen to audiobooks thanks to Editis, and, of course, have a lot of fun playing with Gameloft’s videogames or watching videos via Dailymotion.

You’ve been coming to the Cannes Lions festival for 18 years now. Do you have any favorite memories?

I have so many! Too many! I can’t recall them all. I’m really passionate about music so, since the beginning of the Havas Café adventure (a long time before we joined Vivendi) I’ve always tried to host at least one live music performance. I believe in the power of entertainment and its natural convergence with the world of communications. One of my favorites was Craig David, which was amazing (I’m obsessed with rap and R&B).

I just love the atmosphere in general in the Café and in Cannes. It’s great to meet up with people from all over the network and see everyone enjoying themselves and making the most of their Cannes experience thanks to the Café.

How can people follow along with what’s happening at the Café this year?

It’s super easy! Our Newsroom team will be sharing content nonstop all week using #havascannes and #havascafe, which has been a trending topic in Cannes. They are great! You just have to stay connected and check our channels 😉

Twitter: @HavasCafe

Facebook: @HavasCannes

LinkedIn: @HavasGroup

Instagram: @havascafe

Get ready team! It’s going to be a lot of work, but we all know it’s going to be an amazing week!

"Over the years, the Havas Café has become an established brand and we are very proud of it."

The Havas Café has become a fixture on the Croisette during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Each year, the café hosts over 3,000 clients, prospects, partners, press, and celebrities, offering them a place to meet and take in thought-provoking discussions during the day and enjoy music and socializing in the evenings.

Havas Group’s Chief Communications Officer Lorella Gessa shares the story of her “brainchild” and how it’s grown in the years to meet the needs of the festival.

You started the Havas Café 13 years ago. How did the idea to create a space for Havas Group on the Croisette come about?

I wanted to create a “home” for all the people from Havas who were traveling to Cannes from all over the world for the Lions: a place where we could all meet, network, talk business, organize meetings, welcome clients, meet the press, and have fun. I also wanted to provide a space where journalists could comfortably write and share their articles thanks to free WiFi, and where clients coming to Cannes could feel entertained and welcomed. The CEO at the time liked my idea and the rest is history.

At the time, no other communications group was doing anything outside the Palais, so we were pioneers in the fringe programming during the Lions and became “visible.” Over the years, the Havas Café has become an established brand and we are very proud of it.

The Café has grown a lot over the yearswhat can people expect at the Café this year?

Yes, we get bigger and bigger every year! When we started 13 years ago, it was on the small terrace of a nightclub on the Croisette. Then we moved to a bigger terrace at the InterContinental Carlton Cannes Hotel, and in 2012 we moved to the beautiful gardens in front of the Le Grand Hôtel where our two pop-up structures measure over 600m2 (~6,500 square feet).

This year we will be offering a meaningful Cannes experience to all our stakeholders and will be organizing events and activations that illustrate our creativity in all its forms. Cannes Lions has evolved a lot over the years, but, in my opinion, creativity has to remain the central focus. Some of our highlights this year include a VIP evening with actor and musician Jeff Goldblum, a performance from comedian Sebastian Marx, the Havas Party with KCPK, a press update with Havas Group Chairman and CEO Yannick Bolloré, and on Tuesday The Annex will be taking over the main stage space for a day of surprises.

"I believe in the power of entertainment and its natural convergence with the world of communications."

How has the partnership with Vivendi reshaped the Café?

We are bigger and better since joining Vivendi and so is the Havas Café.

During the 2017 Cannes, we announced we were joining Vivendi. The Havas Café is the perfect place to showcase the power of our grouplast year, we created an extra space dedicated to entertainment where we showcased all the other Vivendi assets, including performances by James Bay, Jessie Reyez, and Tank and the Bangas.

This year, we are adding a Vivendi corner where our guests will be able to listen to music from Universal Music Group artists, watch TV series from Canal+, read books or listen to audiobooks thanks to Editis, and, of course, have a lot of fun playing with Gameloft’s videogames or watching videos via Dailymotion.

You’ve been coming to the Cannes Lions festival for 18 years now. Do you have any favorite memories?

I have so many! Too many! I can’t recall them all. I’m really passionate about music so, since the beginning of the Havas Café adventure (a long time before we joined Vivendi) I’ve always tried to host at least one live music performance. I believe in the power of entertainment and its natural convergence with the world of communications. One of my favorites was Craig David, which was amazing (I’m obsessed with rap and R&B).

I just love the atmosphere in general in the Café and in Cannes. It’s great to meet up with people from all over the network and see everyone enjoying themselves and making the most of their Cannes experience thanks to the Café.

How can people follow along with what’s happening at the Café this year?

It’s super easy! Our Newsroom team will be sharing content nonstop all week using #havascannes and #havascafe, which has been a trending topic in Cannes. They are great! You just have to stay connected and check our channels 😉

Twitter: @HavasCafe

Facebook: @HavasCannes

LinkedIn: @HavasGroup

Instagram: @havascafe

Get ready team! It’s going to be a lot of work, but we all know it’s going to be an amazing week!

Sulaiman Beg is Havas' Director of Global Internal Communications. He has never eaten canned tuna fish.

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