Cannes you dig it ?

Funny place,  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 ?

It’s genuine.

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,¬† 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 ‚Äď 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 Рand that is a genuinely  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 all¬† 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.¬† 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 Рbut at least in the old days it had the advantage of being mainly populated by creatives. Who had the wisdom, in turn,  not to take it all so seriously.

  • Dave Trott

    (Jim Kelly, now CEO of Dentsu, just sent me an email, I thought I’d share it:)
    Hi Dave ,
    Absolutely true story ‚Äď I even use it in a speech I do to account directors .
    Thanks for reminding me in a such a nice way .
    Mind you I  was the poor bugger  who had to go to Tokyo to sell it to the Japanese.
    Good training for today‚Äôs job though ……..

  • martin sadofski

    I remember being in a room with John lennon and Albert Einstein. We were chatting to George best and he said to me he’d just been drinking with Michael Caine… never name drop! ¬†Al Pacino gave me that advice.

  • Kevin Gordon

    Hi Dave, the Dalek’s voices, those daft barbecue cover heads, and ridiculous laughter make the characters in the Smash ads come to life. It’s an absolute classic, so watchable again and again and again. What makes you remember the brand is it flowed beautifully tucked into the narrative…¬†
    “and they smash them all to bits”.¬†I guess the simple universal truth is that making mash out of potatoes seems daft, and making Smash out of mash seems obvious once it’s been done, but how many ads are truly this memorable after 40 years?¬†

  • michael hills

    Frank Lowe also once said that he thought the line¬† “I’m smitten with my Vauxhall” would become a classic.

  • Conor O’Sullivan

    I think that one of the most important attributes a creative should have is the ability to be a performer. Or at least to be thick-skinned enough to be prepared to make a complete fool of yourself as you literally act out the TVC or radio script in front of the client.

  • Dave Trott

    I agree Conor, without it they’re missing a dimension.
    Creatives just assume clients can see what’s in their head.

  • Dave Trott

     For George Parker,
    Like you I’ve been having problems with the makeover.
    I tried to comment on your blog but no luck.
    Hopefully it’ll all get sorted eventually.
    The social media is a bit anti-social at present.

    • George Parker

      No comments and and my last couple of posts have¬†disappeared. I also have no idea how to make new posts. emails to Gordon etc are unanswered. He’s probably hiding out in The French ¬†’til the sh*t settles.

  • Rob Mortimer

    I was watching the Looney Tunes Golden Collection at the weekend, and there was an extra which showed film footage of Tex Avery in the early 40’s physically acting out the movements of one of the characters to demonstrate exactly how it should look.

    The principle is very similar. He was working with the best animators in the world at that time, but he still took a long time to make sure they saw it how he did.

  • Kevin Gordon

    There was a great documentary about the life of Eddie izzard last night on BBC 4.
    Did anyone see it?

  • Dave Trott

    I had to watch the whole thing, it was addictive.
    I love the way he ‘runs towards what frightens him’.
    It’s still resonating in my head.

  • Kevin Gordon

    Yes Dave,
    I think his mother’s death at an early age plays a big part in his motivation for success.
    That resonates strongly with my own abandonment through adoption at an early age.
    You grow up ahead of time, and quickly realise you are responsible for your own success.
    If life holds no challenge it becomes meaningless.
    A friend of mine is very successful. His kids have led a sheltered life.
    He can’t even get one of them out of bed to go to work in the morning.

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