Since 2006, June has been THE month with a big red circle in my calendar. Why? Well, I could throw lots of different answers here: ”June is when the NBA Finals take place”, “June signals the official start of the swimming season”, “June is the month when I got married”…

By Dannos Tsakalos, Marketing Manager, Thinkdigital Group

Obviously, all these are valid reasons why I am looking forward for June to arrive. But this is a corporate blog which focuses mainly on Online Marketing & Advertising. Therefore, the true reason is business-related and is... located in Cannes, France.

Yes, you guessed it right. I am talking about the Cannes Festival of Creativity, which brings together every year around 11.000 members of the global creative communication industries. With numerous interesting seminars & workshops by renowned authorities of the advertising community, Cannes Lions is a mind-blowing experience and a truly inspirational event, which broadens your horizon and, needless to say, offers a unique opportunity for networking. For, it’s the place where you can meet legends everywhere, anywhere, anytime… So, if you can afford it, this is one of the trips (mind you, the Festival, not just the city) you definitely should take while you are professionally active.

Am I packing my bags again this year? Nope, I am too busy, you see. And to be honest, at first, I was disappointed, almost gutted that I would miss it. Until I experienced some sort of an epiphany. People describe Bucharest as “Paris of the Balkans”. I’ve never been there, so I can’t say whether it is, indeed, so sophisticated, elegant and beautiful as Paris. But then again, it doesn’t really matter, as I have a more appropriate nickname in mind: “Cannes of the Balkans”. That’s right. Forget the sandy beaches and palm trees. What Cannes and the capital city of Romania have in common is that in June they are going to welcome a group of pioneering ad executives, digital marketers and innovators from all over the globe, who will attend Cannes Lions & ICEEfest respectively.

Organized by Thinkdigital on the 6th and 7th of June, ICEEfest is a premium Online Marketing Festival which features more than 42 hours of seminars, workshops, master classes and interactive entertainment, such as IAB’s MIXX Awards and a Viral Movie Night. From Digital Creativity, Innovation, Social Media and Mobile to Digital Publishing, eCommerce, Gaming and Performance Marketing, each session is themed around a different key industry topic. Therefore, it will give delegates a unique chance to gather valuable insights and practical tips, to get inspired by best practices and success stories and to engage in dialogue with top-notch speakers about issues that matter to them.

So, let’s roll-out the red carpet, ladies and gentlemen, to greet the 30+ keynote speakers who will visit our “neighborhood” to participate in ICEEfest. For, among the ones who will visit our “neighborhood” are senior representatives from Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo!, two Jury Presidents from last year’s Cannes Festival of Creativity, “one of the 25 most creative people in Advertising”, the CEO of Campaign’s UK Digital Agency of the Year, the regional Head of AdWeek’s Global Media Agency of the Year & the winners of the 2012 Press Grand Prix in Cannes.

The magic aura & the “teaser”

Why is it important to see and listen to all these speakers? In my opinion, it’s mostly about inspiration, meeting interesting people, setting the bar higher and ceasing to create (or approve) mediocre work, getting some great advice and returning to your office full of insights, tips & a magic aura that follows around you in your daily life forever. Therefore, as a “teaser”, we are going over the next few weeks, through this blog, to introduce some of the speakers and a small sample of their work and philosophy. Take a deep breath, fasten your seatbelt and say “hello” to Geoffrey, Gideon, Martin & Tom.

Geoffrey Hantson, Executive Creative Director, Duval Guillaume Modem (day 1)
“It takes bravery to provoke conversation and build social currency”

I had the honour to do an interview with Geoffrey last year in Cannes. He was the Festival’s biggest success story, as he had won a total of 14 Lions (!) –more will follow this year- however, what impressed me the most was that he is a humble guy. Ambitious, but also very down-to-earth. One of the things he told that day stroke a chord with me: “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. The recession we faced in Belgium affected us deeply. Tosuchanextentthatwewereforcedto lay off 130 people, that is 70% of our workforce. However, we managed to recuperate. Like a boxer who is hit with a ferocious punch, but, somehow, finds the power to stand on his feet and strike back.” And strike back he did, as in the last 12 months, his agency from “lowly” Belgium was the most awarded Agency at Eurobest 2012, created the most shared video of the year and Geoffrey himself was recognized by Business Insider as “one of the 25 most creative people in Advertising”.

At ICEEfest, Geoffrey will explain why “it takes bravery to provoke conversation and build social currency”. Here is what he believes: “the fact is that brands need bravery to really engage with consumers because they need to say something that makes a ripple. They have to make a stand. People are not interested in Advertising. People are interested in amazing content and producing such amazing content asks for bravery”. Like these 2 campaigns for TNT and Heineken!

 Gideon Amichay, CEO & Founder, No, No, No, No, No, Yes       (day 1)
“No, No, No, No, No, Yes “

Gideon Amichay is the former Chief Creative Officer & Joint Managing Partner of Shalmor Avnon Amichay / Y&R, Israel. In 2012 he served as the President of the Direct Jury at the Cannes Festival of Creativity and over the years he has won, among others, 19 Cannes Lions & 9 Clio awards for great campaigns like…

I've seen Gideon present quite a few times. He is very creative, but also methodical, inspirational as well practical... In a nutshell, do yourself a favour and don't miss his speech. He will impact the way you are thinking in a positive way! After all, there is a damn good reason why he named his new innocative marketing ideas company, located in the Big Apple, "No, No, No, No, No, Yes"! ;)

Martin Brooks, CEO, Work Club       (day 2)
“There’s never been a better time for digital marketing start-ups“

You must be kind of special if you have co-founded 2 ad companies that have won “Agency of the Year” accolades over and over again. Right? Well, that’s the case with Martin Brooks, the CEO of Work Club, an agency that was named Marketing’s UK Agency of the Year in 2011 and Campaign’s Digital Agency of the Year in 2012. Having the Midas’ touch and the expertise and vision to know what it takes to succeed in this industry, Martin will join ICEEfest in order to elaborate why “there’s never been a better time for digital marketing start-ups“. How? He will use this session to encourage people to consider starting-up and weigh up the risks/rewards. Using some exciting examples, the co-Founder of Work Club will identify why some digital marketing start-ups fail whilst others become global businesses and think of innovative ideas, such as the world’s first ever “programmable t-shirt”!

Tom Eslinger, Worldwide Digital Creative Director, Saatchi & Saatchi      (day 2)
“Getting to Great Mobile Ideas”

You read Tom Eslinger’s bio and you feel privileged that you’ll have the opportunity to watch him on stage: a member of Saatchi & Saatchi’s Worldwide Creative Board since 2002, he is one of the true experts in integrated and mobile creativity, a multiple Cannes Lion winner across Outdoor, Cyber, Media, Direct and Promo, as well as the only one who has presided over both the Mobile Lions and the Cyber Lions Jury! And you know what? He will not only deliver a keynote presentation titled “Evolve the Species: Make It Mobile", but he also agreed wholeheartedly to run a special 1-hour workshop on how to “Get to Great Mobile Ideas”. This is a workshop, which will combine a mix of speed-reviewing winning Mobile work from 2012, with practical steps for applying these processes to conceptualising, planning, creating and producing your own mobile-centred ideas. It covers the best (and the worst) ways to approach creating for mobile, and participants will work in small teams to quickly devise a mobile solution to a brief, working with Tom Eslinger to crack and hack a presentation of their concepts in this hour-long session.

Only 50 lucky delegates will attend the workshop. So, if you want to be one of those, book a full Festival ticket now and send an email to, letting us know that you are going to attend Tom Eslinger’s workshop –bear in mind that two executives per company have the right to apply.

So, now you know what are you going to do this June, right?  See you soon in Bucharest!

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P.S. 2 If you are not based in Romania and you have any questions regarding accommodation, feel free to contact us at and say what's your budget and preferred star rating are. And we 'll make sure we come back to you asap.