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Cannes: Special report

Much like seeing the Mona Lisa, you have to be able to say that you've done it at least once. Cannes during that week in June is talked about by those who have experienced it in the knowing tones reserved for a shared intimacy.

For Cannes ingenues like me, the prospect of your first time is, naturally, a potent mix of the beguiling and the unimaginable. What will it really entail? Will it live up to expectations? Can you get it wrong?

That's where advice from such cognoscenti as Unilever's Simon Clift, Andrew Marsden of Britvic and Gerry Moira is invaluable. From how to prioritise your time through to whose flattery to ignore at 3am, it's all useful stuff. More than that, it provides a saliva-inducing taste of the week in which the ad industry goes out to play.

And then there's the work. Al Gore in seminar, Bob Isherwood's new directors' showcase, and the Lions themselves, of course. Cannes is a chance for creativity to take the best seat in the house, to be the dish of the day, to steal the show.

As Marsden says, it's refreshing for creativity to be celebrated outside of the constraints of commerciality. But the fact remains: for those who commission the ads, the end is always the sales they generate.

It's a massive indictment of the power of ideas (and the sure touch of Cannes juries) that the majority of gold Lion-winning ads have also proved commercial hits, as Donald Gunn reveals here.

Whether you are strutting your stuff sur La Croisette this year or no, here, surely, is a reason for all in the ad industry to celebrate.

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