Reasons not to buy, in Cannes

In a film from long ago, Chevy Chase is sitting on an airplane and he asks the stewardess for a Coke.

“Do you want it in the can ?” She asks.

“No, I’ll drink it here”,  he replies.

That’s how some people feel about Cannes, junket city – that it’s basically a synonym for toilet.

But I’m quite fond of the overpriced old tart, and last week found me in Cannes at the MIPCube conference, a gathering of the digitally savvy just prior to the  big TV festival.

Some of you will of course be attending the  advertising festival in a few weeks – immediately after the porn festival, somewhat symbolically I feel.

So I am able to reassure you that the views are still excellent, the flora on the hills above the resort still transcendentally beautiful and the drinks in the bars still expensive enough to make a grown man weep and punch a complete stranger.

Drowning your sorrows in Cannes is only possible for people of the kind described in the brilliant elevator pitch for Beverly Hills 90210 – an everyday story of very rich kids whose problems can’t be solved by money.

I’d been invited to this patch of overpriced heaven to speak about Decoded, and the apartments we were put up in had stunning views – but a restaurant that closed at 10pm. Ali, one of my partners in Decoded, and I proved immensely stupid in refusing the tempting Easyjet microwaved croque monsieur, thinking we would sample the famous delights of French cuisine.

High in the hills overlooking the most famous stretch of coastline in the western world, the most famous cuisine on the planet closes at 10pm.

So Ali and I shared a yoghurt snack bar.

In the conference itself, buzzing with people who were so wired they might just suddenly disappear like a faulty QR code, we’d been allocated a space that was less a stage, and rather a soap box.

However,  despite this, we attracted a very healthy crowd, some lively questioning and a sweaty burst of business-card-swapping.

At this point I came up with another business idea – a stand OUTSIDE any conference which sells you a packet of fictitious business cards – Roland Butter, CEO Starship Enterprises, Kuala Lumpur, for instance – which you can brandish at your boss at home as proof of your assiduous networking.

But this service isn’t up and running yet so Ali and I did it the old fashioned way and were delighted by the positive response.

“You’re making code cool” said a strategic thinker from a gaming company in Paris.

“When are you coming to Stockholm, we want to do the course ?” asked a Bafta-nominated Swedish film producer who was making 7-minute dramas for mobiles.

“I want to send our whole company on the course” said a chief executive of a massive production company. (But we’re not sure how many CEOs that company has, so let’s not count our chickens on that one.)

Anyway it was a huge success, although we did hear one warning bell – someone who said “I work for a technology company and lots of our people should learn code, but some people in the company will say – we have developers here, they can teach the others. That will never happen, but it will stop us from buying your excellent course”.

And that led me to think about “reasons not to buy”.

Virtually everybody I talk to about Decoded likes the idea,  but some of them  find some reason to postpone doing it.

And anyone who works in advertising is bound to be fascinated by “reasons not to buy”.

That’s why we do the course in a day – so people can’t say they don’t have the time.

That’s why we cost it at a rate that fits the average industry training budget (full details on the website).

That’s why we have 2 trainers and we make sure that no-one gets left behind – so people can’t say “well, it’s aimed at people more advanced than me”.

But this reason was a killer.

“We have people in our company who might possibly be able to teach the others to do this. Of course they’re far too busy to do it, they would probably make a complete mess of it, and nobody will ever organise it, but there – that’s why we’re not going to take you up on this”.

That’s a tricky argument to counter.

“Ah, but how about if these fictitious non-trainers get attacked by a fictitious computer-spread virus from another planet that makes their sexual organs explode  in their faces – what then, my friend ?”


My final take on it is this – if you COULD learn what will undoubtedly be the creative language of the future, and  it WASN’T too expensive, and you could spare one day from your schedule to make your life a lot less stressful – well, only a fictional bunch of non-people can stand in your way.

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