Rahul Mathew
Jun 22, 2011

Rahul Mathew's blog: Cannes alcohol festival kicks off

McCann's Rahul Mathew shares his experience at the Gutter bar and some entries that stood out at the festival

Rahul Mathew's blog: Cannes alcohol festival kicks off

The Cannes advertising festival kicked off on Sunday, but the Cannes alcoholic festival kicked off for me last night. The venue for which was as always a few hundred meters from the Palais. Right in front of the Martinez hotel, a bar that's known to anyone who has ever been to Cannes as the Gutter Bar. It's a ritual to end your long Palais days with longer nights at the Gutter Bar. If the cabbie who dropped me is reading this (bloody optimistic of me) now you know why the road in front of the martinez turns into a maze of swaying bodies.

The funny thing is that gutter bar is not its name. Even though I remember staring at its name last night, I can't remember what it was. I don't think anyone remembers. And I guess the owner has also given up trying to stick to the original name... I saw a bright orange poster stuck to the wall that announced the pseudonym. Guess as long as the drunk advertising folk continue to get more drunk, why bother.

Coming back to yesterday. Met up after ages with many of my creative director friends from around the world. That coupled with BBDOs double silver celebrations, that I suddenly found myself in the middle of, made sure the night was long. Way to go guys.

Rewinding a bit more to the awards night itself. Promo & activation, direct and PR. To be honest I have never really followed PR and probably now I will. But Promo & activation and Direct are categories I eagerly look forward to. Some of the best work in the last few years has been happening in these categories. Work that unlocks the idea from the close confines of media allowing it to embrace the consumer instead of just trying to shout out to him.

And this year it was no different. McCann Romania left everyone in the auditorium deaf with their double Grand Prix work for Rom bars. It was one of my favorite pieces from the shortlists. It exemplifies courage; on the part of the agency and more so on the part of the client, to change the identity of a brand in the belief that it will enrage the disinterested audience enough to demand for it to be changed back. Check it out online.

What I love about P&A and direct as categories is that they force you to be either stunning and colossal or absolutely simple and honest. Like Coca-Cola has been doing off late. Be it with the friendship machine or Santa's forgotten letters the brand shows that it simply and honestly wants to open happiness in everyones' lives. I have a goofy grin on my face each and every time I see those ideas. And if Spanair hadn't sent the unexpected luggage down the conveyor belt on Christmas eve, Coke could have done it. Because it's just as magical an idea. Have been rooting for these ones the year around and was elated to see them win.

Like I have been rooting for the WWF format. Simple, effective and bloody brilliant. And it just helps that it's for a cause that I strongly believe in... saving paper.

One entry that had me stunned during the course of the show was the Save the Burma piece. I saw only the presentation board and it had me ho-humming nice. But when the video poured the chants of the Buddhist monks into the auditorium, I had gooseflesh. Request to Cannes - please show videos at the viewing area, it gives life to the ideas. Request to all those entering - please provide videos, it gives life to the ideas.

In a couple of hours radio, outdoor and media results will be out. BBDO once again leads the charge for India in media, while it's a shared assault in outdoor and in radio McCann is the sole Indian warrior. So depending on how we do one will know how late the night will be, how long the tabs will run and how intricate a human maze it will be for the cabbie at the Gutter Bar.

(Posted on June 21, 2011)

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