"Cannes is what you make of it,” that’s a common refrain that one is bound to hear about the week long Cannes Lions festival.
There’s networking, seminars, workshops, awards, campaign showcases, parties (decidedly lower on the priority list, given the sentiment in the last few years) and Gutter Bar, of course. We spoke to industry professionals to understand their motivations for being in the south of France this year.
Birla Sun Life’s Ajay Kakar says he looks at Cannes as a mecca of learning. "The work displayed, the seminars, the awards nights and the people you meet...every one of these facets of Cannes can inspire the ‘students’ of the world of advertising and creativity like nothing else can."
However he believes there are some regrets too. "There is very low participation from the client fraternity in India and very low attendance from the advertising fraternity in the seminars - especially from India," he adds.
Taproot’s Agnello Dias believes that Cannes offers the chance to attend breakthrough seminars that one would not, otherwise, have an opportunity to attend. He adds, "I was at Cannes last year and Bob Geldof’s talk on Copenhagen was something. It’s a YouTube sensation now and for all of us there, we knew it was a once in a lifetime experience."
Contract’s Ravi Deshpande says that the biggest motivation to be at Cannes is to see cutting edge work from across the world.
"You get to see work that you could never have imagined was possible, and that’s always truly inspiring. You can never say ‘I know it all,’there is always something that you come across at Cannes, which you haven’t thought of. It inspires you to want to do more."
For Bang Bang Films’ Roopak Saluja, networking is of paramount importance. “Those six productive days can set the pace for the whole year ahead in terms of the people you meet.”
Most adlanders have a Cannes ritual that they’ve stuck loyally to, through the years. So while Piyush Pandey never misses the chance to visit a little bistro in Cannes called Casanova for his fix of Indian style ginger tea, Prasoon Joshi says he always makes time to meet Neil French at St Pauls when he visits Cannes.
For Publicis Ambience’s Banerjee, meals in the village, a trip to Gutter Bar and watching TV shortlists are a must-do on his list. He adds, “Some of the seminars are invariably eye-opening. We have quite a few meetings at Cannes, which we always attend.”
As far as Cannes tradition goes, Saluja lists out what he wouldn’t miss when he is there. "The Shots party (that Bang Bang is the main sponsor of this year), steak tartare and rose at the Carlton terrace, the Martinez bar, breakfast at that cafe opposite the Palais that I can’t remember the name of, the Rushes pool party, late night munchies at this Panini place that’s open from 11pm to 4am and of course, the much loved and despised Gutter Bar."
Aniruddha Banerjee, chairman, Publicis Ambience
"I’m going to Cannes to see what the best work this year is, for networking, for learning a few new things, for the food, to be with a strong Publicis global team hopefully winning a lot of metals. What interests me the most are the awards, of course. You get to see all the cutting edge work at Cannes. What I never miss at Cannes is the New Director’s Showcase. Networking is an important aspect at Cannes. We are a French organisation, and Cannes is our local show, so to speak. The global agency is there in full force, and all the important people that you must meet are available."
Ajay Kakar, CMO- Financial Services, Aditya Birla Group
"Needless to say, Cannes is by far the most sought-after destination within the advertising, media and marketing fraternities. I think of Cannes as a mecca of learning....the work displayed, the seminars, the awards nights and the people you meet...every one of these facets of Cannes can inspire the students of the world of advertising and creativity like no where else can. Cannes Connect is a welcome addition this year that can help us plan and arrange meetings on the side lines with the like-minded, in advance. For many, an annual visit to Cannes is a prequisite earned for their contribution to their agency."
Ravi Deshpande, chairman and CCO, Contract Advertising
"Whenever I’ve attended Cannes, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to see as much new work as possible. This year, I will try to make a keen observation of digital and other new media work, to understand which way the world is moving in terms of the ideas that are being executed across different media. Cannes is a good way to also meet one’s colleagues from international networks, and friends from the fraternity from around the world, people who one happens to know over the years, either by virtue of having judged some international competitions or having interacted with them in different forums."
Agnello Dias, co-founder and CCO, Taproot India
"Over the last three years or so, Cannes has really upped its calibre of sessions and speakers. Not only are they big names, but in addition, they are also people who we would not normally get to hear. I was at Cannes last year and Bob Geldof’s talk on Copenhagen was quite something. It’s a YouTube sensation now. For all of us there, we knew it was a once in a lifetime experience. This year at Cannes Lions 2010, Ridley Scott, Wim Wenders and Spike Jonze are supposed to show up, not to mention John Landau who produced Avatar."
Roopak Saluja, MD and executive producer, Bang Bang Films
"Networking, for me, is the essence of Cannes. My first time there was back in 2000, while I was a young Account Executive at Y&R Budapest; I went as a consultant for the Hungarian Producers Association to promote Hungary as a shooting location. I flew back home with a proud catch of 500 business cards. Of those 500, not more than a dozen are connections that develop into meaningful professional relationships. The best part about Cannes is that six productive days can set the pace for the whole year ahead in terms of people you meet and prospects you develop and that you can be a few drinks down right through it all."