Donald Gunn has got one of those jobs - like David Beckham’s agent
or Sharon Stone’s dresser - that makes his contemporaries turn
As the worldwide head of creative resources for a top ten agency, he
divides his time between watching ads (exotic travel, sumptuous meals
etc), attending advertising festivals (ditto) and travelling the world
to make sure his network, Leo Burnett, stays up to creative scratch.
So it came as no surprise that on his retirement, Gunn is in line for
what appears to be one of adland’s more glittering sinecures - president
of the Cannes International Advertising Festival (Campaign, last
True, its chairman, Roger Hatchuel, has the reputation for being a bit
... well ... French. But his son, Romain, has been drafted in to do the
hard work of running the festival, and Roger will stay firmly in the
front line. So what exactly is Gunn going to do?
Since Cannes began nearly half a century ago, it has gone from a modest
forum for cinema commercials to the world’s foremost international ad
competition. But although it is adland’s favourite baby, feelings can
become strained. There are the whinges about the expense of Cannes, for
example, or the domination of the anglophone countries, and through it
all an on-again, off-again relationship with the press.
Gunn will bring to the equation some enviable ties with the fourth
estate, built up through years of swapping ads and ideas from far-flung
parts of the globe.
And his credentials are even more impeccable with agencies. Unlike
Hatchuel, who spent most of his early life as a client at Procter &
Gamble, Gunn is plugged into what agencies want out of the competition
and he can spot a potential Cannes juror at a hundred yards.
’Cannes is much more than a competition,’ Hatchuel says, ’it’s a
festival and we want to gather people into seminars and workshops. Many
people think it’s an easy thing running Cannes, but it’s very time- and
imagination-consuming. We need someone from the advertising world.’