Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of WPP, claimed that WPP executives are "underpaid" in relation to its three rival network groups, following the rejection of the WPP remuneration report by shareholders.
Sorrell said: "The performance statistics against our competition are very strong – we either lead or are second in pretty much any period that you care to take."
Wading into the pay debate, David Jones, the Havas chief executive, said that it would be a "brilliant" thing for rivals if Sorrell were to leave WPP following the shareholder revolt, because of the value that he generates for the group.
Jones said: "I think if he were to resign and leave over this, it would be a great thing for us.
"The day that Sorrell leaves WPP, I'll be licking my lips and rubbing my hands together because no-one else is going to be able to go in after Sorrell and keep that company in the position it's in, and it will start to dramatically decline."
Glory for Wieden & Kennedy Portland
Wieden & Kennedy Portland was named the festival's Advertising Agency of the Year, beating Bartle Bogle Hegarty London into second place overall.
W&K amassed the highest score for entries across the Cyber, Press, Outdoor, Film, Film Craft, Radio and Titanium and Integrated categories.
The agency's awards included golds in the Film and Film Craft categories for the "best job" commercial for Procter & Gamble.
For the second year running, W&K Portland was also named the Independent Agency of the Year.
The Antwerp-based Duval Guillaume Modem secured the Media Agency of the Year title after landing two gold Lions for its work for Carlsberg and TNT.
Manning Gottlieb OMD was in third place after winning the Media Grand Prix for the "Google voice search" campaign.
Serviceplan in Munich was named the Direct Agency of the Year after winning awards including a gold Lion for its Lego "builders of sound" activity.
Ogilvy & Mather top networks
WPP's Ogilvy & Mather was crowned the Network of the Year after its agencies landed 83 awards across all categories, comprising one Grand Prix and 12 gold, 20 silver and 50 bronze Lions. Leading the way was its O&M China office, which scooped the Grand Prix in Outdoor for its "#cokehands" work for Coca-Cola.
Tham Khai Meng, the worldwide chief creative officer at O&M, said: "The awards are a reflection of our strong creative and management teams, our client relationships and our agency culture that places its emphasis on creativity. It's great to be recognised by our peers."
In addition to O&M's triumph, WPP landed this year's Holding Company of the Year award after accruing the highest score for entries across all categories.
Palme d'Or to MJZ
The US production company MJZ won the Palme d'Or, which is presented to the best production company, beating the UK's Rattling Stick into second place.
The award is contested by production companies that have at least ten films entered into the competition.
US production companies dominated the rest of the top five, with Biscuit Filmworks in third place, Caviar in fourth spot and the 2011 Palme d'Or winner, Smuggler, lying in fifth position.
MJZ-produced commercials included the gold Lion-winning "roadside ditch" spot for DirecTV that was directed by Tom Kuntz. Rattling Stick's credits included the Ringan Ledwidge-directed "three little pigs" spot for The Guardian, which also won gold.
Dan Wieden honoured
Dan Wieden, the co-founder and global executive creative director of Wieden & Kennedy, was recognised with the second Lion of St Mark award in recognition of his "long and outstanding contribution to creativity".
The award came the day after an absorbing session that saw Wieden present alongside the winner of the award last year, the Bartle Bogle Hegarty founder Sir John Hegarty.
Jack Dorsey, the executive chairman and founder of Twitter, was presented with the Media Person of the Year award, while Mars was named the festival's Advertiser of the Year.
Sustainability, and change, on the lips of the Cannes crowd
If there was a mood to be captured from the eternal shuffling between meetings and wine glasses along La Croisette last week, it's perhaps one of mild bafflement: so much to see, so much to do, and does it all mean the really bad times are over?
Or was the Carlton Terrace 2012's equivalent of the ballroom in the Titanic? Generally, it was the clients who were most upbeat, though many were giddy with their first Cannes and American, which helps with the positivity.
Clients were certainly eager to be seen doing business (Procter & Gamble was still sitting in hot rooms listening to presentations on creativity on the final Saturday of the festival), though many appeared to have booked their Cannes tickets and only then realised they should work out why they were actually going.
But the marketing fraternity did embrace a common theme, one that has been building for years but which seemed to find its apogee in the South of France: sustainability. From Unilever down, it was the most universal and internationally palatable message, and one that managed to galvanise a sense of purpose and optimism.
A stroll along La Crosiette also revealed how much money the tech companies are ploughing into Cannes these days: hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars on parties, chill-out zones and yachts. You could only feel for the agencies that had invested in their own branded beach cafes, often deserted, as the hoards flocked to new things on the block.
As predicted, advertising agencies and the whole business of celebrating great work was often drowned out in the increasing noise of the festival. Even rows over the awards judging – with the media jury in particular accused of some rather suspect block voting by Omnicom agencies – proved little more than a sideshow.
In the end, Cannes 2012 was a many-headed monster that bore little resemblance to the creative festival of a decade ago. This is not a criticism. But it did lead to several conversations about the opportunities for a new, pared-down festival simply celebrating creativity. Unilever's Keith Weed, one of the world's biggest marketers, said he'd be up for that. But then perhaps we would be back on the road to Cannes all over again.