Neha Banati is a Creative Director at the Havas Lynx Group. This year, Neha attended Cannes Lions with the rest of the team. In this blog, Neha shares with us an insightful first-hand account of her Cannes Lions experience and what it was like to be live in the action of winning three lions and the big one... Cannes Lions Healthcare Agency of the Year 2018!

It’s often been a source of hilarity for those close to me that I get confused between lions and tigers. Silly I know but in Punjab where my mum’s from, colloquially they use the same word for both. It makes sense really, when there’s a big toothy cat around, semantics become pretty irrelevant.

Turns out the only major exception to the big cat rule is Cannes Lions. Because for this, my team and I, like so many others around the world, would pore over every single word in our submissions for Speed Donating. An absolute must if we were ever to convey the power of our campaign in the tiny word counts and time limits.

The seemingly never ending, intense submissions process paid off. We were so very proud to hear our campaign was shortlisted and this success echoed across Havas Lynx with 7 shortlists in total. But how many of these would transform into a proper lion? Off to Cannes we went, to find out…

I spent the flight sniffing out the holiday makers from the competition, so full of excitement and nerves. On arrival it was clear. This was going to be an eye opener. Everyone here was eager, buzzing and a bit tipsy on rose. This was my kind of place.

Immediately meetings between some of the most impressive creative minds began. You could hear them all around. In the restaurants, in the event spaces, in the McDonald’s. Everywhere you went, creative people sharing stories, full of energy and enthusiasm. It was a pleasure to chat with many of our fellow Havas network colleagues from all around the world in the Havas cafe.

Everyone here was united in their obsession with the best creative work. And getting recognised for it on the world stage. It’s fair to say that we as Havas Lynx certainly did that. It was so amazing to see Tim, PK and Tom go up and accept lions for the Rollercoaster and Ouchie campaigns.

It was also so inspiring to see all the other agencies amazing winning work. And then – agency of the year. We were all in shock. A massive achievement for everyone in our company. The mood was elation and some serious partying ensued. Naomi Campbell was there and everything.

The next day, not feeling my best but still armed with a pass for the health events, I struggled to choose between the talks on all the different stages. I knew I wanted to attend the inside the jury sessions, to hear first-hand how they approach the judging process and get some cheeky insider tips.

These talks did not disappoint. I’ve learnt so much from my first time at Cannes Lions. I left determined to be the best of the best. To get further than shortlisted and I’m so much clearer on how. It’s going to be exciting and tough. It’s going to take some serious grit. A bit of luck too. But thanks to the experience, I’m readier than ever for that challenge. There’s no mistaking it. Next year I want to earn those stripes. I want to win us a lion.