Heather's Cannes Blog: Our 'Best advertising in the world' leaves Aussie delegation buoyant

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By Heather Jacobs, Campaign Brief Asia

So, if austerity is the new black in these tough times where does that leave Cannes, the most decadent of advertising festivals? The mood on day one, Sunday, was subdued. Talk of the GFC had many shakily handing over credit cards for over-priced drinks hoping they weren't declined and the Carlton Terrace was a washout. It's not supposed to rain in Cannes in June - didn't they move the festival a couple of weeks to avoid this? 

Many delegates are MIA, someone said there's 50% fewer registered than last year's record high and entries are down 20%. In the midst of a recession sending 20 people on a jolly to the South of France looks irresponsible when people are losing their jobs, taking pay cuts and even iconic brands like British Airways are asking people to work for free.

Back in Australia, which hasn't been as hard hit as the UK and the US, it was cooler not to be going to Cannes this year. Even Cannes stalwarts like BWM Sydney's Rob Belgiovane threatened not to come, but at the last minute got himself on the judging panel.

 Talk in the Gutter Bar doesn't come cheap with drinks at €10 (about $20) a pop and people are shouting over each other to stress how quiet it is this year. But once you're here there's nothing to be done except to throw yourself into the fray. With the first shortlists handed out at 3 P.M. on Sunday, just hours after getting off the 85-hour flight from Australia, and three press conferences a day on Monday and Tuesday there's no easing into it, it's straight to work.

In press conferences stern-faced judges wax lyrical about the winning work, which the journos get under embargo until the awards ceremonies are over, and grimace at the stupid questions the press ask. The most excited person I've seen so far is a Young Lion from Romania who screamed, hugged everyone within a 50-metre radius after hearing he'd won the print division and wrapped himself around David Lubars so tightly he had to be surgically removed. His pure undulating joy was a reminder that this is a place where careers can be made or destroyed on the back of those heavy metal Lions.

Speaking of Lions, Australia had a fabulous start to the week - two Grand Prix for 'Best Job in the World', which is shaping up as the campaign of the festival, and we blitzed the Direct, Promo and PR Lions. TED 'Project 696' managed the unusual feat of winning a Gold, Silver and Bronze in Direct and Earth Hour's 'Vote Earth' was up against 'Best Job' for international PR campaign of the year. The mood quickly turned from complaining about the recession to pride in Australia's success on the world stage.

Sure, there's no Leo Burnett party this year, no DDB party, no Young & Rubicam party, no Publicis party in the Pierre Cardin mansion, no Campaign Brief Villa Pool Party and people are actually taking about going to the Opening Gala. But there's still the chance to see the best work from around the world, revel in Australia's success, go to the odd seminar and soak up the inspiration that comes with this very unique annual festival. 

2 Comments

Anonymous said:

And I thought Dave was white...

Anonymous said:

Congrats Australia.....great to see real work winning much deserved recognition.

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