Six Things Adland Could Learn from the ‘Grown Up’ Cannes
The Cannes Film Festival 2015 is well under way. Or as I like to call it, ‘the other Cannes’. Film stars, hauteurs, producers, wannabes and wheeler-dealer studio execs are yukking it up on the French Riviera. In six weeks’ time it will be the ad industry’s turn to take over the town, exchanging the retro movie glamour for something a bit more, umm, raucous. Sure Cannes Lions and the Film Festival take place in the same town but, really, they are worlds apart. But as I’ve been watching the news come in from this year’s Festival de Cannes, I reckon our lot could learn a thing or two from the ‘grown ups’.
1. No Selfies
“You never look as ugly as you do in a selfie.” That’s the verdict from the Cannes Film Festival director Thierry Fremaux. He’s announced that the festival will be clamping down on awkward selfies on the red carpet; A-lister or not, your Instagram feed is just going to have to deal. It seems an alien move to the advertising crowd. The ad industry’s week at the Palais is full of brands and platforms like Facebook and Twitter needling us to battle the terrible Wi-Fi and socialise the shit out of every shareable moment. Personally, I have to agree with Mr Fremaux. I’ve never taken a selfie in which I didn’t resemble a slightly out-of-focus peeled potato.
2. The UberCopter
Whether your company is shelling out for a taxi ride to your hotel or you’ve been told in no uncertain terms that you’re taking the bus, you’re looking at a good 30 minutes to an hour to get between Cannes and Nice. While the outward trip isn’t too bad, the journey back is horrendous. Lugging your bags over two miles to the bus stop before travelling to Nice in an airless oven, all the while nursing a rose hangover… glamorous, n'est-ce pas? No such worries for the A-Listers at the Cannes Film Festival. Uber has partnered up with a French helicopter firm to offer 7-minute flights between Cannes and Nice. On demand helicopter rides ordered via your smartphone? Umm, yes?
3. Fancy Dress
I once sat next to a journalist from The Telegraph on an EasyJet flight to Cannes. It was his first Cannes Lions and, it transpired, he had packed nothing but suits. Don’t worry, we reassured him, there’s an H&M, you can get shorts and flip-flops down there. Of course, he would have fit right in with the Film Fest, where couture frocks and Dickie bows are the order of the day. It’s sort of quaintly nostalgic, harking back to the day when Cannes was le dernier mot in Riviera chic and not a conveyor belt of endless conferences. I think I’d quite enjoy rocking up to a party in £500,000 of borrowed diamonds and swooshy dresses.
More importantly I’ve never seen Cate Blanchett wearing a lanyard at Cannes and that, surely, is a style lesson for us all.
4. Keep it tight in the jury room
There are just 26 jury members split between four different panels at the Film Festival. 26 individuals locked in darkened rooms, having interminable debates well into the night, while everyone else gets to play in the sunshine. Contrast that with the advertising festival where there are 24 categories, including Health, the Glass Lion and Innovation, and countless jury members (countless because I started counting… and gave up). Ok, so the simplicity of the Film Festival award set-up might be totally impractical and unsuitable for the contemporary advertising and marketing industry but it’s pretty appealing. Seriously, film journos have it easy.
5. Celebs with Purpose
Imagine spotting a celebrity at Cannes and not spending the next half an hour wracking your brains about why the hell they could possibly be there. At the Film Festival, the stars are there to hawk their latest movies and to try and line up their next one. Fairly straightforward. At the advertising festival, famous names are increasingly clogging up the Cannes Lions schedule. While some obviously have something relevant to say, others have a more tenuous relationship with the advertising industry. This year the line up includes Pharrell Williams, Marilyn Manson and The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus (something something zombie survival, something something brands?)
6. Not the Gutter Bar
One Cannes native who is also part of the advertising and production community has told me that the local community absolutely hates it when the global ad industry rolls into town. Let's just say, her mum seriously disapproves.
Of all the industries that use Cannes as the venue for its annual get-together, we, it transpires, are the worst behaved. The porn festival is a pretty courteous and well-mannered affair, by comparison. And while a fair old amount of drinking and debauchery goes down at the Film Festival, it’s kept fairly discreet and takes place as far as possible from the paps. The Carlton Terrace does not, I’ve been informed, turn into a rammed, overpriced ‘Spoons by the Sea when the movie world is in town. And apparently passing out on the curb by the Gutter Bar with your flies down is not a prerequisite for an enjoyable and productive week at Cannes. Who knew?