A view from Jon Wilkins

How all that rosé drunk at Cannes could help charity

As rosé indulgence reaches its peak at Cannes, Karmarama has a scheme to put all that drinking to good use, says the agency's executive chairman,...

I would argue that the most talked about subject during Cannes – and in the run up to the festival – is not creativity. It’s not storytelling, or VR, or even content. No, the one thing you can guarantee will get everyone – from global network bosses to junior creatives – talking enthusiastically is the appeal of a chilled glass of rosé in the Riviera sunshine. 

Rosé consumption is booming, and sales of the drink have doubled in the last 13 years. In France, rosé now accounts for more than 30% of total wine sales, but I’d imagine the percentage is even higher when adland descends on the Croisette, where outsize bottles of rosé are regularly deployed to help delegates make friends and boost creativity.

Every year at the Cannes Lions festival, agencies, marketers and tech giants spend a small fortune on the posh pink plonk. This summer, rosé indulgence has reached new heights with the "frosé," a slush puppy-style frozen version of adland’s favourite drink. While some would see rosé consumption as money well spent – as essential to the Cannes experience as a discussion on ad-blocking/the future of advertising/who has the biggest yacht – many would argue it’s an obscene indulgence.

This year we wanted to help turn that rather indulgent behaviour into something that also does good in the world, and give back to the very place the global advertising industry invades for a week every year – an influx which isn’t without its stresses and strains on the local community.

As an agency that believes in doing the right thing, we thought it would be nice to support a community that has supported us since 1954, and has just signed a deal to let the Lions stay in the city for another decade.

Our idea, in partnership with the Cannes Lions organisers, was to create special edition Lions rosé, with profits going to a local French charity. After running the concept past the Mayor of Cannes, we agreed that the money raised should help the schools and communities who were battered by the violent storms in the south of France last November.

We decided to support the #helpcannes charity, which was set up by local people to support those who suffered and to raise funds to rebuild the city’s essential services. Every time a bottle of Cannes Lions Rosé is bought this year at official festival venues, 10% of proceeds will be donated to the charity, and to making Cannes a better place. 

We’re also encouraging people to support the initiative by sharing their glass of rosé on their social channels with the hashtag #raiseyourrose. So we’re inviting everyone at Cannes to take some photos of themselves with a large glass of Lions rosé in hand, and to share the pictures with friends and followers as a way of feeling a little bit better about drinking in the sunshine, knowing that you are giving something back to the people of Cannes, one sip at a time.

Jon Wilkins is the executive chairman of Karmarama