PERSPECTIVE: Cannes carnival is a poor advertisement for our finest minds

Advertising, as Peter Mayle once said, attracts some funny


There are a fair proportion of semi-competent dullards "who should have

taken up their natural places in the undemanding obscurity of the civil

service", but this is also a business reeling with real talent.

Mayle ponders if we were able to create the perfect adman, what would we

find. A shameless extrovert with a conversational style somewhere

between the TV chatshow host and the bedside manner of the family

doctor. Someone who can get his foot in the door, even over the

telephone, immune from rebuff, eternally self-confident and an immediate

enthusiast. Resilience and perseverance are also prime qualities in the

Mayle brief, which explains why some of those who rise to the top in

this business do so without trace.

But any attempt to prescribe the requirements for success in advertising

is as futile as it is subjective, which is why our feature on page 22

this week, The Brainy Bunch, contains such a motley collection of

otherwise unrelated adfolk.

The theme that strings them together is their success in shaping the

face of the advertising industry, setting standards which others take as

their benchmark and challenging advertising conventions. Of course, this

has nothing to do with conventional intelligence, which might even prove

a hindrance. Rather it is an indefinable ability to relate to people

(colleagues, clients, consumers) in a way that builds tangible

relationships and cuts through the pomposities and bullshit that so

often cloud advertising thinking.

You might feel we've overlooked people in compiling our two lists, The

Gurus and The "Young" Pretenders, but I think there will be few who will

argue with the names we've chosen to include.

It's ironic, though, that we're championing advertising's finest in the

week that we're also picking over the bones of Cannes (see Diary for the

most tasteless bits). Cannes still falls short of providing a showcase

for advertising's finest.

Take the relentless success of the Brazilians, who were up and down on

the podium more often than your average pole dancer. Still, in the midst

of partizanship, scam advertising and the uneven playing field created

by the different regional advertising regulations, it's great to see Leo

Burnett London walking away with its own well-deserved cache of


The agency snaffled more golds than any other, despite the fact that the

delicious John West "bear" slot lost out to Cliff Freeman's Fox Sports

ads for the Grand Prix.

Outside the awards hall, and undaunted by talk of downturn and

redundancy, this year's Cannes seems to have been as excessive as any

other. God help the marketing services sector when they are embraced to

Cannes' wrinkled chocolate decollete next year - how many shady corners

are there on le Croisette for non-creative types to lurk in?

Caroline Marshall is away.