Funny place,Â Cannes.
It’s not a real town. It was invented as a conference centre in the early 1900s.
So you know that feeling of fakeness you get in Cannes ?
And I’ve always felt a bit like a poisson au dehors de l’eau there.
This may be because, when I was on holiday there as a seven-year-old, I lost my teddy bear on the beach. True story. I cried all the way back to our hotel in St Raphael.
And it wasn’t helped by the particular circumstances of my getting home this week.
I got back very late on Thursday night because the flight was delayed, I was sitting next to two people who had clearly lunched long and well,Â my booked taxi didn’t turn up, I ran down 5 levels to get on the very last Tube train which didn’t stop at my station because they were mending the lifts, walked a mile home, found that the builders hadn’t finished what they were supposed to be finishing, decided to watch the footy from 100 minutes in on Sky plus, and turned on JUST in time to see Luis Suarez’s first goal.
And it’s not helped by my being an introvert. Cannes is for extroverts. My latest Myers Briggs synopsis is IPQR (Introvert Prissy Quixotic Radical) although it changes on an hourly basis. Just a couple of days ago it was SMOC (Sagittarius Mollycoddled Onanistic Chelsea fan).
Which is odd, because I’m definitely not Sagittarius.
Or it may be because, as Claire Beale touched on in a recent editorial, that a festival which was once all about creativity has been rather hijacked from that goal.
Cannes is a league table of creativity â€“ and that is not what creativity is about. It means that accountants and chief financial officers can analyse creativity.
It’s largely because of that, that the advertising industry is in the dire dreadful hopeless mess that it’s in right now.
Advertising is a lousy business model, which is why it’s run by accountants. They’re the only people who can package it up and sell it to the short-term high-frequency bastards in the City.
But because it’s run by accountants, it’s lost its way and its purpose.
Which makes it an even worse business model than it was before.
I was down there this year giving a talk at a very pleasant conference which was populated by very pleasant European publishers and media buyers. At least I think it was. I only understood a fraction of what they were talking about.
The chateau, about an hour outside Cannes, had wonderful grounds and a glorious swimming pool.
In previous years, I’ve made the mistake of going into Cannes itself. I’ve been damaged very badly, in the wallet area, the liver, and the ego. Although I did make the inspired decision of NOT going the year when HHCL won the Grand Prix, deciding I would rather watch the Test at Lord’s.
Anyway, I was at this conference wearing my Decoded hat. A jaunty, nautical number.
(I can remember a previous business partner announcing in a discussion about Lego that he was wearing his “Lego hat”. It makes me feel sorry for the poor people working on McDonald’s.)
(Let alone Herta Frankfurters.)
A team from Decoded was talking about what happens when data meets creativity – and that is a genuinelyÂ fascinating topic.
In my view data needs to cosy up with creative people – because creative people at least want to connect with their audiences. If it just sits in the analytical part of the industry, the whole thing will get even more cynical than it is right now.
There’s a big difference between the people who want to “capture” audiences and those who want to connect with them.
I’ve always hated how the advertising industry describes its audiences – how can you possibly communicate well with someone you only know as “a C2 housewife” ?
But let’s see.
It’s not so much that the barbarians are at the gates, more that they’ve moved in and pre-booked allÂ the best rooms.
Incidentally, the Decoded Oracle, which collated data from all over the place to predict the winner of the Film Grand Prix, got it right.
Does this mean that data can work together with creativity ?
I’d like to be optimistic.Â But Cannes has a habit of bleaching some of the optimism out of me.
I’ve heard it described as a cynical, exorbitant, exploitative, vapid exercise in dipsomaniacal willy-waving.
I think it was by me.
Of course, it always was – but at least in the old days it had the advantage of being mainly populated by creatives. Who had the wisdom, in turn,Â not to take it all so seriously.