This year however, the room was filled with an air of measured calm and the sound of pencils quietly scribbling on notepads. This was despite the fact that the film jury was the toughest on record, awarding just 15 lions (two fewer than the famous 1995 jury headed by Frank Lowe, which also failed to award a Grand Prix). Perhaps it was all down to the long-haired, laid-back Jeff Goodby, a San Franciscan in every sense, who ruled the jury with a smile rather than an iron fist.
The reason for the lack of awards was not particularly controversial either. It was simply a year for average or below average work, with some really outstanding exceptions.
"A dark sky with some really bright stars," as Goodby put it.
Where feathers were ruffled was at the media awards where BMW Films failed spectacularly to win anything. Neither was it eligible for the film category due to the time limit, so it had to be content with the cyber category. It is interesting that despite many asserting that BMW-style films are the future of advertising, there is still no category at Cannes in which it fits.
When the ad industry's own awards festival is ill-prepared for the changing media landscape, it's little wonder that agencies themselves are so slow on the uptake. It's a real struggle to find anyone doing anything remotely interesting, as we discovered while researching a feature for our next issue, and as such, it's disappointing that it didn't get more recognition in Cannes.
The threat of specialist providers mopping up traditional ad spend seems ever more likely.