Cannes: Return to roots

This year marks a return to the original purpose of Cannes, Rosie Arnold and Jeremy Craigen say.


Cannes has always split opinions: a brash show of advertising excess or a truly international awards scheme? This year will be very interesting. I wonder if the beachfront boulevard will be filled with conference-goers or tumbleweed.

I imagine it will be a much quieter, more sober place, but I think it will force the work into the spotlight and re-establish the reasons Cannes was started in the first place: the world's answer to a truly global awards scheme.

I hope the juries will be much tougher on scam advertising and celebrate truly original, beautifully crafted ideas across media and markets that solve real business problems.

I always look forward to seeing the work. In these straightened times, witnessing emerging talent and new ideas will be invigorating. Even if people aren't in Cannes, most will get to see the work later in their own countries.

Cannes has always secretly been a place to get work done, in fact, even if it is in a more glamorous location than usual. I expect there will be a few industry figures still heading down there, but business will be top of their agenda this year and I imagine their visits will be shorter.

From a personal point of view, I seem to have missed the, ahem, boat, as the yacht hiring and flash parties have passed us by a bit here. But it is pretty astonishing when you arrive in Cannes and see the opulence of the boats and the lavish beachfront parties.

It has certainly reinforced the reputation of the communications industry as one of the most extravagant and fun industries to be involved in.

But Cannes is just a week-long mirage that hides the reality of what it takes to get nominated for a precious gold Lion. The sweat and tears, the long hours, the battles to get the right idea, cast, photographer, director, endline... it seems nothing short of a miracle even to get on to the shortlist, and those who do should be congratulated.

At some point in a creative's life, he or she should go to Cannes. Just to experience the total immersion in advertising. If you are an ad fan, you will love it.

The seminars can be inspiring, but so can seeing advertising folk from around the globe. It's a bit like the advertising Olympics; yes, you feel competitive, but, at the same time, very proud to be there among the best in the world. As a judge in previous years, I have spent hours in a darkened room looking at ad after ad. I felt like a mole. But it did broaden my appreciation of what people are doing around the world outside London.

This year, what I hope to see is work that dazzles, shocks, amuses and makes me stomach-churningly jealous that I didn't do it myself.


Jeremy Craigen executive creative director, DDB London

"Deadline for entries extended."... "Have you entered all your work into all the right categories?"... "Age for Young Lions extended to 30."... These e-mail messages from Cannes Lions were clogging up my inbox throughout March and April. And they say a lot. Cannes 2009 is going to be very different.

Some people are of the opinion that it is inappropriate to go to Cannes this year with all the job losses that our industry has incurred. I think this is bollocks. Yes, regrettably, a lot of good people have lost their jobs. But there are also a lot of good people who haven't. People who have worked their butts off all year. People who, despite the recession, have managed to get some great work out. People who want to be inspired to do better next year.

Which is why, at DDB London, it's business (and pleasure) as usual. Anyone from the creative department who wants to go to Cannes, can. They book it as holiday, they pay for their own flight and accommodation and, if they win a gold, they are reimbursed.

OK, there's going to be no DDB party this year. But I'm sure DDBers will find other ways of amusing themselves, even if there are fewer production companies out there to wine and dine them. Some of them might even take some interest in the festival itself.

To be fair to the organisers of Cannes, they've put together a pretty impressive list of speakers to attract an extra delegate or two. They range from Kofi Annan and Spike Lee to David Plouffe.

In these rather depressing days, Cannes 2009 could be a timely reminder of why we got into advertising in the first place: to produce great work and have fun doing so. I don't think we should be afraid of doing either. So come on out, enjoy the sun, enjoy the work. And leave your hairshirts behind.


- Press

There is a lovely campaign for Alka Seltzer by CLM BBDO Paris (right) that had me running around the agency showing it to anyone who would stand still long enough. I hope that does well.

- TV

A strange year. I felt sure our Barclaycard "glide" film (below, right) would do well at awards, but so far not a dickybird. So fingers crossed on that front. I think Saatchi & Saatchi New York's Crest ad will appeal to a Cannes jury.

- Poster

The question is: will Wallace and Gromit in DDB London's campaign for Harvey Nichols (left) have global appeal? There is also a wonderful campaign, "what goes around comes around", for Global Coalition for Peace from Big Ant International, New York.

- Integrated

The "millions" campaign for the New York Education Department by Droga5 is a brilliant piece of thinking. It should do well. "Dig out your soul" (below) from Bartle Bogle Hegarty New York to promote Oasis' new album is an astounding piece of work. I'm still green with envy.