Cannes Lions ADPR Study Abroad Program Spotlight 

By Ellie Hamrick 

Studying abroad in college can be daunting. The University of Georgia is such a big school and offers so many study abroad programs, which makes it easy to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of opportunities at your disposal. Luckily, there are ways to narrow down your options a bit by studying abroad with Grady College. Grady offers many renowned study abroad programs, both domestic and international. No matter what you want your study abroad experience to look like, chances are Grady can make it happen for you. 

The Cannes Lions Festival Study Abroad Program is a three week opportunity that allows students to sit down with some of the most creative ADPR thinkers in the world while attending the Cannes Lions Festival in Cannes, France. Before students attend the festival, they receive six hours of upper division elective credit, as well as prepare for the festival. The festival itself lasts a week, and then the last week of the trip is designated for reflection and final project presentations.

I sat down with PRSSA’s very own Director of Finance and Outreach, Sophie Difusco, to discover a little bit more about her experience with the Cannes Lions Study Abroad Program. Sophie is a third-year public relations major, a fashion merchandising minor and is currently pursuing the new media certificate. Sophie reminisced on her time at Cannes in our conversation:

Sophie Difusco in Cannes, France this past summer.

What made you decide to do the Cannes study abroad program over the other Grady programs?

“I first learned about Cannes from PRSSA and really liked the idea of France because I studied French for a long time in middle school and high school,” Difusco said. “I also knew that I wanted to study abroad internationally, and that I wanted to go to Europe, so that narrowed it down pretty quickly. Cannes is also directly related to PR and advertising, so that also helped me make my decision.”

What’s something that you learned about advertising or PR that you didn’t necessarily know before? 

“I definitely wasn’t aware of how much PR makes an impact on the world,” Difusco said. “I was able to see in real-time the impact that a lot of PR campaigns had. Specifically, I thought the ‘Morning After Island’ campaign, in which Honduran women boated out to a platform in the middle of international waters to take the morning–after pill which is illegal in Honduras, was really striking. The campaign ended up being effective too. In March of 2022, the president met with the people who started the campaign and pledged to draft a new law legalizing the pill.”

What was the most beneficial thing that you learned in the program?

“I think I didn’t really have a great understanding of what a career in PR would look like before this trip. This trip taught me that you don’t necessarily have to have a strict understanding of what the industry is because PR is so broad. You can cater it to what you want to do with it. For example, when I was at the festival I spent a lot of time going to fashion talks because that’s what I want to work in.”

What did networking at Cannes look like? 

“Networking there was definitely beneficial,” Difusco said. “There were certain people that Dr. King and Professor Cohen, who spearheaded the trip, would set us up with and we could go talk to them. A lot of the people that they set us up with were UGA alum. I also did a lot of networking on my own, which was very cool but scary. During the festival, they had these tents on the beach, and in each tent there would be representatives from a certain company, so if there was a certain company that I was interested in talking to, I would just go up to their tent. I definitely still have connections that I made talking to people at Cannes, so it was very helpful.”

What was your favorite part of the Cannes program? 

“I would have to say my favorite part was the festival itself,” Difusco said. “I really liked that there were so many events going on at the same time so you could make your experience catered to what you wanted to do. In terms of the program as a whole, I really loved where I was staying because it was right on the beach, it was really easy to get around and it was a super fun environment.”

What celebrities did you see at the festival and who was your favorite one? Did you get to talk to any of them?

“I actually went to a lot of talks with celebrities,” Difusco said. “I talked to Ryan Reynolds and Luipita, who was very inspiring. I also got to talk to Paris Hilton, Alexis Ren and Cameron Dallas. Megan thee Stallion was there too, working on a campaign with Hot Cheetos. I’m not sure if I have a favorite celebrity that I saw or talked to, but they were all really cool to see.” 

What would your advice be to anyone applying to the program this year?

“Make sure you have a clear reason why this program is the one for you,” Difusco said. “Why there? Why that program? What will you get out of it? Also, do your research about it and have an understanding of current advertising campaigns for the interview process.”

As you can see, Sophie had a blast in Cannes this past summer. If you are interested in advertising, public relations or the creative sides of both, make sure to apply to this fantastic program by Thursday, Nov. 10.