As the memory of yet another Cannes Lions festival starts to fade today, it’s time to reflect on the true meaning of the industry’s annual trip to the south of France.
This year, I asked the same question of everyone I met or interviewed, how much real business gets done in Cannes?
And after almost of a week of such conversations, it was clear that there is a myth of Cannes that needs to be dispelled.
Cannes, the myth suggests, is all about the parties, the yachts, the rose, the celebrities.
This, however, is far from the full picture.
Like any myth, the Cannes one is rooted in elements of truth. Of course, the above are all elements of a week in Cannes. The weather is glorious, the parties are celebrity strewn and there is an awful lot of rose.
But the real truth is that for most people, it’s a lot of hard work that delivers, often immediate, business results
It’s unsurprising at the Cannes of today that the many early-morning cycle rides are some of the most exclusive invites around, that events start promptly at 9am, all things almost unimaginable at the Cannes Lions I attended as a young journalist many, many, many years ago.
Cannes today is all about business.
I lost track of the number of people who, in response to my question as to the business point of Cannes, showed me their diaries of back-to-back meetings from 9am to 8pm.
Of the number of concrete examples I was given of business deals successfully struck, often after months of fruitless pursuit in London or New York, last week in Cannes.
While interviewing Elizabeth Herbst-Brady, CRO, Yahoo Advertising, she pointed out that Yahoo’s deal with Samba actually originated in Cannes last year.
Yes, of course people are out partying till 2am. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t at that breakfast meeting the next morning that took months to arrange and could be transformational for their business.
Cannes can appear brash, detached from reality, floating on a sea of rose and aloofness
But for most people and companies investing significant financial resource in a week in Cannes, the above is a myth.
For those remaining at home during Cannes week, it’s easy to look at the torrent of images pouring out of people on yachts or at parties and feel a stab of jealousy and self-righteous disapproval of a week in the Riviera.
But ignore the rose and parties myth, Cannes in reality delivers tangible business results.
See you on the Croisette next year.