Great work, but Cannes we do better next year?

The annual junket to Cannes has come and gone. As I write, accountants are feverishly pouring over the expenses filled in by those lucky enough to have earned their place on the yearly pilgrimage to the advertising industry’s most anticipated week-long soirée in the sun. Drinks at the Gutter Bar don’t come cheap after all.

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By  Tim Addington Published  July 2, 2006

|~||~||~|The annual junket to Cannes has come and gone. As I write, accountants are feverishly pouring over the expenses filled in by those lucky enough to have earned their place on the yearly pilgrimage to the advertising industry’s most anticipated week-long soirée in the sun. Drinks at the Gutter Bar don’t come cheap after all. The Middle East contingent that made the trip, including Saatchi & Saatchi’s Ed Jones who gives his own unique take on life at the festival on page 8, will have been heartened by the performance of the region’s agencies. If 2005 was considered the year that the region finally emerged from its creative black hole in terms of international recognition, then 2006 showed that it was more than just a one-off. Dubai’s Tonic earned the admiration of the industry last year for taking home the region’s first ever Cannes Gold Lion for creative. This year it was a case of I’ll see your Gold Lion and raise you a silver, oh yes, and a hatful of shortlisted entries from seven different agencies. This was the region’s best ever year at Cannes. Wunderman’s gold, the first for a direct marketing agency, and Team Y&R’s silver in the outdoor category, proved that Tonic’s triumph could be repeated. In the year that we have been publishing Campaign I have written dozens of stories about the region’s lack of creativity, the importance of awards and countless calls to “raise the bar”, from whichever ad agency VIP happened to be in town that week. Quite frankly, it’s getting slightly boring. These achievements will go some way to silencing those critics who were so quick to mock standards here. Let’s not fool ourselves, however. There is still a lot more that needs to be done in order to ensure that the success of the last two years is repeated and built on. The number of entries from across the region was a woeful 284, or just 1% of the total number received by the Cannes organisers. Unsurprisingly, print was the most popular category, but there were very few entries in radio or online. And regional representation was dominated by the UAE and Lebanon. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain had only a handful of entries, and where were the submissions from Jordan, Qatar and Oman? Another issue that needs to be considered is that the winning work and much of the shortlisted entries were very international in flavour. There is little evidence of local culture, faces or any Arab influence at all. The pressure is now on the region to at least meet or exceed this year’s results. Agencies that are aligned with international networks will be pressured from their corporate headquarters to compete more aggressively, while the independents will want to ensure they don’t miss out on the glory. Or the expense claims. There are interesting times ahead for the region’s creative industry and none more so than those working in Oman’s advertising business. The country is evolving from an insular-looking state based on tradition and heritage to one that is opening its doors to the rest of the world and embracing changing. Oman means business and, as we see from page 18, the country’s creatives are eager to join in on the ride. This is my first week in the editor’s chair, and together with the team I intend to build on what we have achieved over the last 12 months, as we move into the next phase of Campaign’s life. The second half of the year promises to be a busy one for us. In November we will be holding our first Campaign Conference to coincide with the Media & Marketing Show, as well as running our awards for media, marketing and PR. I look forward to the continued support of our readers whose contribution is vital to our success. In the meantime, if you have any suggestions on subjects we should be covering, please let me know.||**||

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