It’s difficult to shake off that wide eyed feeling when one steps into the Cannes Palais for the first time. I am not even pretending to be blasé about it, I am in Cannes and it’s a wonderful, magical world full of inspiring (yes, I know cynics have another word for it, namely commercial) work that is completely humbling and awe-inspiring at the same time.
The first day of the festival has started off on a quiet note. And if you want to know why, I wouldn’t have the answer. Maybe it’s because it’s begun on a Sunday or maybe it’s because most of Adland is still just settling down from jetlag and pre-Cannes fatigue. Monday will probably be more hectic.
Being in Cannes with one’s knowledge in French being limited to ‘Oui’ and ‘Merci’ can be traumatic. I would know, it took me ten minutes and frantic sign language to get my breakfast order of cheese omelet through to the waitress. Radio Mirchi’s Tapas Sen has some sage advice when I narrate my language woes- ‘Get by without food and you won’t need to talk to any locals.’
The flight from Mumbai to Paris was mostly uneventful, slept through the long flight. Met the Leo Burnett gang including Santosh Padhi and Nitesh Tiwari at the airport, as well as Contract’s Manish Bhatt and McCann’s Govind Pandey. I passed my time trying to guess how many of the others in the lounge were also destined for the South of France.
I alternate my first day at Cannes with taking photos of the festival and attending sessions. Outside, Wunderman has people setting up their stall, hard at work. There is this intriguing man painted completely in gold paint and standing with what looks like an old fashioned video projector. Ad folks passing by, can’t resist the visual and click away. I follow suit but when I prod him for the purpose behind the exercise, I realize the man does not speak English.
Inside in the Debussy hall, sessions are on in full swing and the Wifi works inside (Hurray!) after a little help from the tech guys in the press centre. India’s Adland sighted on the first day include Leo Burnett’s KV Sridhar; rmg connect’s Meera Sharath Chandra; Mudra’s Madhukar Kamath and Ashish Mishra; Tribal DDB’s Leroy Alvares; Radio Mirchi’s Nandan Srinath, Tapas Sen and Prashant Panday; McCann’s Govind Pandey; Contract’s Jagdeep Bakshi and Manish Bhatt, Elephant Design+ Strategy’s Ashwini Deshpande and Sudhir Mishra and Creativeland Asia’s Raj Kurup with his team.
My goody bag which was part of the registration process has been emptied out and the sheer number of pamphlets advertising different sessions during the next six days is mind boggling. There is a little black book in there, too. Quite interesting. It’s filled with references to watering holes and restaurants in Cannes and cuisines served in each place. Very useful if you are in advertising. Useless if you are a journalist, with deadlines looming over your head . I missed lunch so after the last session of the day, head straight for dinner. Off to hotel after that for a night spent typing away on the laptop. Tomorrow’s another day!