As sure as the appearance of summer's first swallow, so the refrain "See you in Cannes?" has firmly entered the advertising industry’s seasonal lexicon (to be followed later by "See you at House Festival?"), marking a period when, hopefully, we can wallow in some of the best creative ideas from around the world.
While the list of winners at the 2015 International Festival of Creativity was dominated by campaigns or stunts that were charitable, not-for-profit and worthy, we’ll have to wait until next month to see whether the juries this year have the confidence to reward genuine, commercially effective creativity or stick to the safe choice of campaigns that "do good".
Whether this obsession with showing that they care is to assuage a collective guilt over the industry’s conspicuous consumption, so clearly on display during the Cannes Festival, is a question that remains unanswered. "Doing good" is, indeed, a crucial part of what the industry should be about and celebrating. Rightly, it is firmly on the agenda of both the IPA and the Advertising Association. However, to my mind, this should not be at the complete expense of brilliant, paid-for creativity.
One cynic, a senior creative, has already said he expects this year’s Cannes to be "the year of the migrant", which has an unfortunate and unpleasant echo of the editor-in-chief of Vogue America Anna Wintour’s recent description of a Kanye West fashion show as "migrant chic" – something for which she later apologised.
As well as trivialising a crisis that is very real and current, it will also do little to dispel fears that Cannes has become faddish, and obsessed with social issues that, in truth, are bigger and more complex than it is, and which it can never really meaningfully resolve, before it moves on to the next big thing.
Whether this obsession with showing that they care is to assuage a collective guilt over the industry’s conspicuous consumption, so clearly on display during the Cannes Festival, is a question that remains unanswered
Mind you, it’s little wonder that the industry struggles to celebrate business success when some clients also give that impression. The Red Brick Road, a plucky little agency that has gone through more in its relatively short history than shops three times its size and twice its age, can be forgiven for feeling a little bruised right now.
Last week, Just Eat announced that it was upgrading its profits expectations by £4m after what it called "an excellent start to 2016". The Red Brick Road has produced some fun and memorable advertising for Just Eat that, while unlikely to trouble the creative juries at Cannes, has firmly helped it on this trajectory.
While the original and gently amusing "mini fist pump" campaign theme has been watered down to something that is pun-ish and "jingly", it still stands out in a sector where creativity is hard to find. It’s a shame, then, that Just Eat has decided to split with the agency that came up with this distinctive – and successful – strategy and creative solution. The whole thing smacks of that well-known syndrome of "new marketing director" and is about as hollow as those questions over whether you’ll be seen in Cannes or not.