Cannes: Special Report

It's sunny outside and there's rose wine to be drunk, but, Philip Thomas notes, "they're not doing any of it".

The Cannes Festival chief executive takes pride in this trend for visitors to sit in seminar halls taking meticulous notes instead of merely taking in the sun during Cannes week. Seminar attendance figures leapt by 50 per cent last June, drawn from a cross-section of clients, creatives and media types, and this summer's climate of economic uncertainty is likely to see queues at the seminar doors snake even further down the hall.

Not only that, but turbulent times are also boosting award entries. More than 28,000 entries will compete this year - that's a 10.2 per cent increase, and the biggest jump ever recorded.

As Thomas notes, it's hard to find a competitive difference between marketing consultancies who have spent the past decade honing their metrics. But, for ad agencies, that difference lies in their creativity, with a big C - and Cannes is definitely a big C. Creativity is the mainstay from which it has never deviated, and for this reason, the business rationale for attending the festival has never been more compelling.

Entries from the UK and the US are growing at around 6 per cent, but it is the rampantly growing economies that have massively upped their presence, with entry numbers boosted by 30 per cent from India, 50 per cent from China and 100 per cent from Russia. IQ Marketing's Natalia Stepanuk (this page) is too modest to reveal her agency as Russia's only gold Lion winner so far, but she'll be delighted at the added competition - as should we all.