This year, Spotify is proud to sponsor the first-ever Entertainment Lions for Music award as part of Lions Entertainment, a new event at Cannes Lions where brands, agencies and entertainment companies can focus on producing outstanding creative work together. Join Spotify as we count down to this year’s festival, taking place June 18-24, with our biggest presence on the Croisette yet.
For most of the year, 61 Le Restaurant is a French eaterie with an international twist, boasting artisanal cocktails, crisp rosé, and baby-fig-adorned foie gras (among other deliciousness). Over one week this summer, the restaurant will disappear and give way to Spotify for Brands’ presence during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. For the past four years Spotify has participated in this prestigious celebration for the advertising industry, but this year, SFB enjoys the distinction of being the premiere sponsor of the Entertainment Lions for Music, and we’re going all in.
Our Global Director of Business Marketing Experiences, Ramona Sidlo, is taking the lead, overseeing the planning and programming of our week on the Croisette. Spotify for Brands (SFB) talked with Ramona (RS) and Brent Eveleth, Executive Creative Director of our agency SET — which is working with us to create the physical experience — about the planning, the setup, and the main event.
SFB: Where do you start in planning and ideating? What is your process to go from empty space to renderings to execution to event?
SET: Ideation tends to happen as often as it is scheduled. Typically, it starts around a table with the creative team, with sketch books out, just talking through ideas, maybe drawing doodles. Generally, we try to tell the room a story about a person who might be in the space — if someone can tell the whole room a great story about a concept for an experience, then the rest of the team gets fired up, starts building on it, and takes it in new directions. Then the sketches kind of come fast and furious, and those are constantly refined. We don’t tend to work in rigid silos, so creative and production work closely together, and the concept keeps evolving.
SFB: What are the key elements to physically representing the Spotify For Brands brand?
RS: We always support the fact that Spotify is a premium category leader in everything we do. This year at Cannes Lions, we’ll continue to message that Spotify is everywhere. We will also provide opportunities in our space for people to interact with our platform and examples of our best work.
SFB: What is the most challenging thing you’re trying to accomplish?
SET: The biggest challenge is always the suspension of disbelief. Our job is to break down a viewer’s expectations of what a space actually is, which is just walls and floor and ceiling, and transport them to a new place, where they kind of inhabit the brand or the experience for the time they are there. That’s when their minds are a bit more open to new ideas, and we can communicate whatever story it is we are telling them. If the audience thinks “Oh, that’s a false wall, there” or “This is the inside of a restaurant where they’ve put something different” then it makes it harder to bring them along on a journey.
SFB: How has the floor plan, mood, and flow evolved over the years you’ve worked on Cannes executions in this space?
RS: The space evolved from being a place to take private meetings to a full-on Spotify headquarters with programmed content throughout the week at Cannes. We’ve set out this year to build an experiential space that acts as more of a “show and tell” meeting space versus your standard PowerPoint presentations; an oasis for social gatherings, a hub for pushing content, and a place to lift the perception of the brand.
SFB: What music do you listen to while you’re working to get inspired? Energized? Focused?
SET: Well, that’s a loaded question. We have a lot of people with . . . diverse tastes, so it can be a tennis match between Adele and Black Sabbath some days. My creative team puts a lot of DOOM and Dilla in rotation, mixed right in with Iggy, Bowie, QOTSA. But when it’s time to get down to work, for me, it’s Aphex Twin or Battles to stay energized and keep my mind moving forward, or heavier stuff for longer sessions of problem-solving: Sleep’s reissue of Dopesmoker is just the trick for some epically heavy focus.
SFB: How do you tackle unexpected problems that come up during an event?
RS: There are so many moving parts, so it’s crucial to operate as a team. We have clear roles and responsibilities for everyone both leading up to the event and on the ground. It’s important to stay calm and develop a plan of action for how we are going to fix any potential problem. We are so lucky to have an amazing production partner in Fire Global Media, who we have been working with since our first
Spotify House at Cannes in 2013. The Fire team knows the Spotify brand inside and out by now, and they work very well with our entire team. They have efficiently helped put out every fire (pun intended) we’ve come across in the last four years of working together.
SFB: What’s the most unexpected thing that’s popped up while at Cannes over the years.
RS: Last year there was a taxi strike on the last day. The strikers blocked the entrance to the airport. Our only option to get out of town? Take helicopters to the airport! Try organizing that for 30+ people in less than 24 hours!
SFB: There’s so much going on at Cannes Lions — why should people visit this space?
RS: We have really taken a new approach on how to educate our clients in these types of activations. Trade shows can get repetitive and boring.The Spotify House in Cannes offers an immersive, fun, and experiential journey around data and insights. Through lights, projection mapping, and daily programming we will continue to drive conversations that showcase our audience, ubiquity, and data.
This interview has been condensed and edited.
Featured Image: External shot of Spotify at Cannes 2015