It was quite unlike anything I'd eaten before - a weird mixture of novel flavours and interesting textures wrapped in a rich sauce.
The Cannes Lions Festival is a similar experience. It's a sensory feast of new ideas and technologies, a place where you meet an eclectic mix of people, passions run high, huge egos are deflated, reputations are built and the best advertising from around the world is celebrated.
It's also a great place to get a sense of perspective - it's humbling to see some of the really brilliant work. You also realise how lucky we are in the UK. I once met a creative director from Romania whose work was shortlisted in the same category as me and we started talking about the challenges we faced getting good work out of the agency. "The biggest problem we have," she told me, "is the secret police. They keep raiding the offices and stealing our only Apple Mac." It's often a raw reminder that great advertising isn't just about investment and that great ideas can overcome any odds to shine through.
Every time I have been to Cannes, I have come back inspired, full of new things to try out in the agency and fired up with renewed energy. So it's really frustrating that Cannes is still seen as a "jolly". Don't get me wrong, it's great fun. But we shouldn't forget that fun isn't (yet) forbidden in the industry and that "recreation" is simply "re-creation". It's somewhere where we can recharge our creativity, re-energising and rewarding people who are worth investing in.
It's becoming harder to be creative these days, "thinking" time is often sacrificed in favour of "production" time - which probably explains why so many executions are more technique than idea. One reason for this is that, as an industry, we don't invest enough in creative talent. "Creativity" is such a nebulous and subjective thing that maybe it's difficult for HR departments to pin down the training required. I'd recommend Cannes. It gives you a benchmark as to how good you are and an intense immersion into global creativity.
That's why Wunderman is taking 40 young creatives from around our network to Cannes with a brief to be catalysts of change when they get back to their offices. We've even asked them to produce video reports on the work, seminars and workshops and share their experiences, start the debate and spread the creative message to our offices across the globe.
If you're not going to Cannes this year, check out www.WundermanReports.com. And if you are, don't be shy if they push a camera and microphone into your face. Oh, and be sure to check out the bouillabaisse.