How I made it to Cannes at the age of 21

DDB Mudra Group's Mowin Dias shares a page from his diary as he recounts his first experience attending Cannes Lions 2024 as a young A&M entrant.

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Cannes at the age of 21

This year has been a complete circle for me. While starting my career at DDB Mudra Group, a year ago, I couldn’t have imagined in my wildest dreams to get an opportunity to attend the Cannes Lions Festival in my very first year. Returning to India on the exact same day of my very first work anniversary, made it even more special. 


The Cannes Lions International Festival of creativity is by far the most celebrated event in our industry. Let's be honest, it often feels like a world reserved for seasoned professionals, But for those of us who are new to the game, the desire to learn and contribute is just as strong. I’m someone who’s obsessed with the idea of “building brands” and one who believes strongly that humans express their self-identity using brands. So, exposure to Cannes Lions would’ve only multiplied this fire within me. While going to Cannes seemed almost impossible, my passion for marketing and advertising and my curiosity to understand how to deliver work that influences cultures, markets and people, got me an opportunity to apply for the Brand Marketers Academy of 2024. Therefore, after spending a good enough two months writing, iterating and reiterating my application with the help of my peers and mentors at DDB, I finally submitted it. Hitting the submit button was a heart-stopping moment, a mix of anticipation and fear of rejection. Thankfully, I woke up to my selection email a month later.  

Mowin Dias

Selection was just part of the process; the larger challenge was also to find logistical help to make this happen as it was the very first time for someone from DDB to be selected for this program and it had never happened before. Honestly, going through this was a bit scary as there was a lot of uncertainty about me finally making it to Cannes. However, I was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by a supportive network of mentors. Not only did they offer constant reassurance, but they also actively helped me make this happen. I could say a village came together to make this happen for me.

And then began a series of my first experiences, my first visa, my first international flight, my first layover, first time on a foreign land, first tramp experience and many more moments.


Sometimes, we unintentionally kill opportunities like these by thinking that we’re not good enough yet. However, the reassurances I received helped me overcome my doubts about my capabilities and pursue this dream. Look at what life offered me when I finally asked for it! However, multiple factors have made this come true. Here’s a small glimpse of the poem by Tessie Belle Rittenhouse that I wake up to every day. 

I bargained my life for a penny, and life would pay no more.

However, I begged one evening when I counted my scanty store;

For life is just an employer, He gives you what you ask,

But once you have set the wages, you must bear the task.

I worked for a menial’s hire, only to learn dismayed

That any wage I’d asked of life, life would have willingly paid.

Attending Cannes Lions has probably by far been the largest event of my life and career. It exposed me to a global platform and reminded me that I can achieve anything.

This article is penned by Mowin Dias, Brand Strategist, DDB Mudra Group. 

Disclaimer: The article features the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect the stance of the publication.

DDB Mudra Group Cannes Lions 2024 Mowin Dias