Time really flies when you’re wrong about Cannes

Doesn’t time fly? A year ago tomorrow, I wrote a feature on the Cannes Advertising Festival which included the wise prediction: “If last month’s showing at the UK-based D&AD Awards is anything to go by, the boys will not be bringing home the cup.”

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  June 11, 2006

Time really flies when you’re wrong about Cannes|~||~||~|Doesn’t time fly? A year ago tomorrow, I wrote a feature on the Cannes Advertising Festival which included the wise prediction: “If last month’s showing at the UK-based D&AD Awards is anything to go by, the boys will not be bringing home the cup.” A few days later, my mobile phone rang as I was sitting in the back of a taxi. It was difficult to make out what Samantha Bartel, then the PR boss for the Tonic ad agency, was saying because of what sounded like a very loud party going on in the background. In fact, they’d just been tipped off that they’d won a gold Lion at Cannes. It came in the print category for their “Paperclip” ad for Sony. The boys were indeed bringing home the cup. Or rather, as they’d rather forgetfully neglected to send anyone from the agency to the event, the cup was coming home to them. When I popped into the small agency office a few days later, my timing was good and the Lion arrived from the South of France while I was there. It fulfilled what is, for me, the most important trophy criterion. I can report that it’s as heavy as it looks. If you hit a burglar on the head with one of those babies, he wouldn’t get back up again. So having got it so marvellously wrong last time, I’m making no predictions this time. Oh, go on then… No golds, but perhaps a couple of silvers. Likely contenders include Tonic’s Microvault print work and Saatchi & Saatchi’s imaginative Crest Lighthouse, both of which did well in the Campaign Awards earlier in the year. Actually, it will be an interesting benchmark between regional standards as set in the Campaign Awards and international standards. And here’s an outside bet. There’s good media work coming out of Cairo at present, particularly from Campaign’s media agency of the year Zenithmedia. In a region with pitiful levels of market data available, it’s always going to be an uphill task to win a media Lion for the region, as solid evidence of effectivenesss is demanded, although it has been done before. So it could just happen. The harder question for the agency bean counters is whether involvement in Cannes is worthy of the investment required. Obviously the cost of simply entering the awards is bearable, but if you want to send a couple of creatives for a week, then what with delegate fees, flights and hotels, the costs can all start to add up, particularly once the expense claims for socialising come through too. And it’s not as if the business justification is one that works on paper: “Standing at the Gutter Bar, talking to my creative mates from around the world” doesn’t sound entirely convincing — even if you can spare the time away from the office when there is seemingly a new pitch every single week at the moment. You can’t even claim that it’s a chance to network with clients. Although they are starting to attend the event, it’s not a client habit that has yet begun in the Middle East, despite the fact that there is a new breed of marketing director coming who needs to be better informed about communications than their agency. But the thing about creativity is that it comes from inspiration. And that comes from wanting to impress your peers. And being excited by what’s going on in the rest of the world, and what’s possible. You only get that through the deep immersion that Cannes offers. So, for clients, the appropriate question to your agency shouldn’t be one of why is your creative director wasting their time with a week in Cannes? It should be — why aren’t you making them go?||**||

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