By Jane Austin in Cannes
Cannes Lions is the ultimate microcosm of the ad industry, unwittingly exposing its warts as much as its more admirable qualities. If you wanted to learn about what it’s like to work in adland, this week in Cannes will teach you a lot more than a degree in marketing and communications.
Cannes Lions organisers’ attempts at trimming the fat from this bloated festival mirrors the way the ad industry has had to get leaner and rearrange itself to remain relevant and existent in the face of a crisis of confidence. And, like the ad industry, this leonine restructure seems pretty surface level. It’s still eye wateringly expensive, there are still far too many awards categories and any charm this money-making machine of an event ever had died a long time ago and isn’t coming back any time soon.
On the upside though, all the posturing and self-aggrandisement can be kind of funny to watch. Look at how indifferent Facebook. Snapchat and Twitter are to adland’s continual gripes about the tech industry taking over and sullying advertising’s celebration of creativity. Remember how Publicis Group boss Arthur Sadoun got in a spin over Snapchat’s giant Ferris Wheel in front of the Palais last year, saying it symbolised the fact the holding companies have lost their thought leadership in Cannes? Turns out, there are plenty more symbols of adland’s downfall where that came from.
This year Twitter has taken over Cannes with giant billboards promoting its general importance in cultural life (and its World Cup coverage). Twitter says it’s bought media space everywhere from Nice airport to the Palais. “We’re greeting execs as soon as they step off the plane,” a Twitter spokesperson chirped. The tech giant has already won Cannes and the week’s only just begun.
And so there you have it. Tech continues to merrily swallow up the ad world – and not just during Cannes week, but every week of the year. Agencies and holding companies it seems have three choices: get on the tech world’s Ferris wheel, build your own, or continue to whinge on the sidelines.