A view from the top
A view from Leon Jaume

A view from the top

Cannes: is it work, or is it a holiday? If you are left behind, those departing are clearly going on holiday, the bastards.

If you are on your way back, you’re not sure what is was, but given that what you now need most is a holiday, you know it wasn’t one of those.

But is it work? I mean, really?

The most important thing to know is that, whatever it is, to a large extent you can do it your way. My first Cannes, by which time I had already been in the business for years and should have known better, ended with my returning the rental car (yes, I hired a car; what an amateur) to the furthest corner of the Alamo pound, casting furtive glances about me as

I hurried for the terminal hoping I would make cover before someone bearing a clipboard and a Gallic glare spotted the battered wreck I had nursed through the gates.

As I recall, it contained (among other things) a good assortment of geraniums still attached to their roots, recently wrenched by a well-wisher from the central reservation of the Croisette before being artlessly replanted across the rear seats.

It was a microcosm of a week that I wouldn’t tell you about, even if I could remember it.

This year, a more sedate few days ended on the plane home with a seat across the aisle from Peter Souter, a man who carries achievements most of us don’t even bother dreaming of with impressive lightness. Had he spent the week being borne around the grounds of the Hôtel du Cap in a silk-draped sedan chair? Not as such. As a member of the jury, he had been incarcerated for a week in unforgiving conditions with 21 other souls from everywhere you can think of, ploughing through film after film after film. And now, with media time restrictions removed by opportunities online, "film" is a description not simply of the medium but, sometimes, of the length too. We agreed that the glee with which the industry has greeted this liberation could benefit from some self-discipline to maximise its power.

And there we have the Great Balance of Cannes. It’s an opportunity to let rip for a week wearing rosé-tinted spectacles; it’s also where the best of what we do around the world comes under the gaze of the best of those who do it. Both are valid. In fact, it is a dependent symbiosis.

My highlights of the many joys this year were: sharing Tom Binks’ amazing villa in Mougins with some of the nicest people I work with; having two WCRS TV ads shortlisted; M&C Saatchi offering us the undrunk booze from their party to stop it falling into the thieving hands of villa security; and smelling Mark Murrell’s car before it arrived in a shroud of black smoke and smouldering tyres after he had overshot the gate and tried to back it up the hill with a full load (cars and Cannes – just say no).

Cannes is where you find that national stereotypes are superseded by professional ones: people in our business tend to share a slightly shambolic nature, good humour, a propensity for occasional excess and a desire to compete, flirt, drink, laugh and enjoy themselves.

You may say these are the attributes of people in general, and I’d agree. But I have always felt them to be that little bit more pronounced in the make-up of advertising people. Which is why I like our business – and I like Cannes.

Leon Jaume is the executive creative director at Engine and WCRS