Next stage in the Maurice Levy/Publicis succession saga will be in Cannes

The Cannes Golden Lions ad awards start on June 20 and on Friday June 25 Publicis boss Maurice Levy is hosting a soiree featuring his biggest client, Procter & Gamble head honcho Bob McDonald, plus Nikesh Arora from Google and Darren Huston from Microsoft.

But this time the focus won’t be on these A-list clients but on what Levy himself says about his plans (he was supposed to retire but now isn’t, due to supposed popular demand).

Time was when the Cannes ad festival used to be an excuse for creatives to pretend to be proper film makers and engage in a cheerful competition with the winner being the one who spent the most agency money on lunches, dinners, drinks and all those other things you can buy on this rather tacky bit of the French Riviera.

Now, under the rather improbable aegis of EMAP, the UK’s somewhat diminished magazine publisher part-owned by the Guardian, the festival has become a ginormous talking shop, cheerfully dishing out ‘lions’ awards for all sorts of obscure bits of marketing communication. Best shelf-wobbler anyone?

But clients, notably P&G, now turn up in droves.

Mind you, P&G won’t be best pleased to have learned that arch rival Unilever has already been garlanded with the Golden Lion for advertiser of the year in 2010.

Why so soon? Well so they order lots of tickets to the festival and places at the prize-giving of course.

But all eyes will be on Maurice Levy. And will he bring his annointed successor, or so we think, Jean-Yves Naouri with him?

If he doesn’t it’s safe to assume Jean-Yves is toast.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.