DIARY: Cannes gets tough on beach bums as TBWA has ball at Lace's villa

Are you spending all of this week in Britain? Had you been secretly hoping that you'd finally get a chance to get out to Cannes and do some "judging"? Did your creative partner get invited instead? Are you bitter, upset, pissed off even?

Well, take it from us - you got off lightly. For this year's festival is certainly no day at the beach. Anyone who thinks that judging at Cannes is an easy gig, think again. The Lions, they are a-changing, and it's all beginning to seem a bit too much like hard work.

To be fair, the warning signs were there. We should've smelled a rat when it was announced that the festival's new slogan was to be: "All Work, No Beach." The International Advertising Festival's chairman, Roger Hatchuel, keen to fall out with even more people than he normally does, was no doubt intent on showing the world what a hard-working place adland is. Security has been tightened up, badges, bags and pockets are being checked with anal scrutiny - the whole thing has the air of a serious industry getting down to some serious business.

But the patience of many jurors is being tested. Not only do they have to contend with intercontinental differences of opinion that are this year as prevalent as ever, but various jurors are being quite vocal in their disappointment with the standard of this year's work. Cannes isn't the type of event to leave any category without a winner and rumours abound that, in light of the disappointing fare, the Titanium Lion is to be downgraded to copper.

Worried by all this hard work, Campaign sent its shoe-shine boy to everyone's favourite cash-only gin joint, the Hotel Du Cap, to see if he could spy any signs that Cannes still had that old magic. Perhaps there'd be a Madonna-sized celebrity there who would bestow the occasion with the ellusive glamour factor, we thought. And we were right, there was. It was none other than the actress Amanda Barrie. You know, the one who played Alma Sedgewick in Coronation Street. Christ, times must be hard.

Meanwhile, the simmering rivalry between TBWA/London and its erstwhile chief executive, Garry Lace, now at Grey, continues apace. Having established that Lace was renting one of Cannes' most exclusive villas during the festival and fearing that Lace might be tempted to invite some of his old client chums from TBWA, two TBWA employees were sent to deck out the villa for Lace's arrival with TBWA-branded towels, lilos and beach balls.

Hijacking someone's French villa, some might say, is about as low-down dirty as you can get. It'll be flip-flops at dawn next.

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