Cannes Lions – Wait…Did Something Just Happen?

After many years of attending the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival, this 54th edition seemed to have a new slant: what the heck is changing and do we really have to pay attention? Instead of an emphasis on film executions, the eyes have shifted to a bigger picture: The Titanium Awards– marketing efforts that cross all lines and create a message that reaches the customer where they hang out. And does so in an open-medium way where no audio/visual platform is left behind.

And photography is part of that cross platform medium. Any photographer working in advertising today should consider this one of the main events for their work on the global playing field. The Print and Press Awards are truly celebrating the power of the still image with an unparalleled broad audience of creative jurors. And the art buyers and creatives that hire photographers, look to see who shot the winners.

One thing that showed promise for the future: The Big Winner was Dove Soap “Evolution”

The Classic Hotel

The Classy Dressing

To go back for a second:
Many years ago, this event catered only to the very elite of the advertising industry worldwide and the main events in the Palais were the screening/viewing of the work. The first 3 days of the week, I always spent in the dark, screening the spots, and the lunch breaks perusing the rows upon rows of print executions.
Yes, there were some presentations, the most popular, the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase, and some panels, but the emphasis was on the screenings, connections and the awards.

World class in nature, non-denominational in recognition. Oh sure, some juries had a lean towards their countryman’s’ work. But more often than not the work would speak for itself. In any language.

The categories to be judged has grown from 21 to about 29, with an eye now towards New Media, or whatever the phrase is today, to explain the way marketers are trying to speak to the customer in a place they live. In other words, trying to reach people in an environment they are already visiting due to interest.
To quote Howard Gossage “ The real fact of the matter is people don’t read ads; they read what interests them and sometimes they’re ads.”

Hmmm written in the late 50’s. Seems to hold today.

The evening events took you to castles, 4 star restaurants, agency parties, and yes, the Gutter Bar. Hotel bars would be almost segregated by country as regions enveloped the environs with same kind interaction.
The Carlton terrace was a US hangout, Martinez the Germans, Majestic a bit more British.
But the common ground was 72 Croissette, the Gutter Bar.

A sign that may strike terror in the hearts of some.

“That cool breeze is soooo refreshing.Oh wait,there is none.”

So named because the masses, which grew through the years spilled out into the street till today there is no delineation between the bar and the next hotel The Martinez.

Lunches and dinners at the famed Column D’Or or Hotel Du Cap became the province of the creative directors, and the sales reps.

The lunches and dinners still happen, yacht parties, villa parties and all are still the coin of the realm.

And it has become a much more democratic event. With the number of delegates almost doubling in the past couple of years (over 11,000 this past year), the amount of money spent is staggering. The delegate’s fees which allow you to attend all of the official events such as award shows, and actually seeing the work, is now about $3100. USD.
Plus lodging, meals, and transport it is a not the cheap seats. Statistically, the attendees of this event spend more that the Cannes Film Festival.

Strangely enough, the event has attracted people not even in the ad business that just heard about the great party going on.

Now a bulk of the business that goes on is relationship based. The opportunity to sit and sip
[photopress:clow_cannes.jpg,thumb,alignright] with the mega stars of the industry can lead to a change in fortunes for someone’s career. In the place where no one lives, so no need to rush home for responsibilities, you hobnob with people you would probably never get to meet under normal circumstances.

That brings in all of the sales forces who, never mind the work, are here to press the flesh and perhaps present a flash, depending on their business model.

For years, I have been photographing the event as a participant and sharing the photos with those in attendance. Kind of a global photo album.

In reviewing the previous years, I realized that I’ve been taking the same pictures for years. Faces changed but the situation hasn’t.

So this year, it was great to share some of the photos with you of the events and scene. Nothing had changed except the photographer’s viewpoint.
Corbis Lounge Entrance

Getty At The Palais

And Why Not take a photo of a pennant?

Yes, there are some exhibits there at the same time.

Quite honestly, I wanted to see if the event was still relevant. After many years of the film commercial being the focal point and denouement of the festival, the world is changing pretty darn fast is the way we communicate with each other. Look, I’ll admit that the film awards had always been a huge part for me. I am a film producer and former head of production for an ad agency. But the world is changing fast. If you don’t change with it, you are lost.

The answer came first from the president of Film and Press Jury, Bob Scarpelli the chairman and chief creative officer of DDB Worldwide: “expand the category beyond TV this year to include video commercials made for internet and cell phone platforms. I think anything that was film should have been included”.

Hmmm….maybe a change was coming.

Not this year though.

Overall there was a bit more of a business atmosphere. Everyone seeing the “old money” shifting. But how to replace it with the “new money”?
What’s the difference?
OLD: standard production dollar going towards airing on TV.
NEW: adjusted production dollars assuming that since the screens are smaller, it should cost less.

Bad math in our opinion.

The folks footing the bill sometimes feel that because the final product was on a smaller screen, it should cost less. Not true. Production is production. With the broadband pipe getting bigger and even youtube looking better, and advertiser has to look/sound as good as possible.

Does this analogy work for you?:
A photograph used for a magazine ad, a web banner ad, magazine and flyers had different USAGE fees but the initial production costs are the same.

Perhaps, there should be usage fee incorporated in the production. It’s already there for the talent fees.

So this world, which also inhabits, is changing many business models.

I prefer to think of it as growing pains, or morphing pains.
Ad for KPB Radio Awards

Content is king.As Always. How the message is delivered is key. If an ad runs in a low distribution magazine or website, does anyone hear it? OK, it’s a play on the old “tree falling in the forest”, but it applies here.

This festival celebrates the creativity of those messages, on a global playing field. No small achievement.

And we’ve seen the new owners take this event to the next level. Not quite all the way to “11”, but it is hands down, THE advertising event of the year. Even the award nights have upped the ante. It kind of closes out the award season, and rightfully so.

I’ve only missed one year in 10, and I’m happy to report that this is still the pro model.

[photopress:lunchwoith_mark.jpg,full,centered] You knew I’d throw ONE lunch in there,right?

Let’s recap: the global luminaries in the business all gather to let their hair down, top notch seminars with real knowledge passed along, no one actually lives there who attends, parties/yachts/French food and the #1 reason:

Nowhere is in the world can you see this collection of work in one place. No kidding.

Row upon row of print work, 4 days worth of film screening, untold gigabytes of internet creative.

Yep, some people like the beach, I like seeing the work.

Who am I kidding?

And the beach, the parties, the yachts, the new friends, et al. I do it all.

On a very personal note though, this is the one place I can see all of my good friends from around the world. Means a ton to to me.

Favored events?

Al Gore speaking about eco-marketing. Great call Y&R, for setting this one up.[photopress:gore_1.jpg,full,centered]

Guess Who

Smell-o-vision – A demonstration of a cinema commercial that release a scent into the air when the commercial is screened and it the stink dissipates after the spot is over. This one had a beach scene with the scent of suntan lotion wafting through the theater. It worked.

The Cannes Debate “Now or Never: Reinventing the Agency Model.” – When people like Jeff Goodby, David Droga, the worldwide CEOs of BBDO and Wunderman, face off with Scott Donaton of Ad Age playing referee, it should be good. Well it should have been longer. Big questions here, folks. Some great baiting, though. Good action and some appalling statements. As one suit posited that there is no need for storytelling, but just get the message out there quick and make sales. Thought it would come to blows.Would’ve spiced it up a bit.
Scott Donaton of AdAge

Jeff Goodby of ..well… Goodby Silverstein and Partners, and Andrew Robertson of BBDO

But the main event?
Walking through rows for ads,


sitting in the semi dark watching spot after spot, evaluating the Titanium award entries, which covered all mediums.


Yeah, this is a good time.

[photopress:empty_stretscane.jpg,full,centered] it early or REALLY late?

See you there next year ?


** A small postscript: As I discussed some of the changes,one of them comes from watching good friends grow and succeed through the years.
This evening I ran into one of these folks, who in years past could be found in the doorway, in his day-glo pajamas, in the glow of the morning light, after a huge night of partying along the croissette.
That same person has had a drastic lifestyle change, and now is one of the most successful producers in the business. Always a good heart, the recent years have proved his true talents. I just wanted to let you know that not every attendee falls into the party trap forever.
And cheers to that.


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