Cannes at last! The festival has been beckoning for a while now. The decision to go to Cannes itself was not an easy one, given that businesses are just about getting out of recession. However, it was opportunity to give a visible signal that the bad times are well and truly behind us, and so I finally took that opportunity to help kickstart the new financial year.
Flying via London, I was hoping to catch a few familiar faces, but was disappointed. The new Heathrow Airport, however, did not disappoint and one was pleasantly surprised to see them serve butter chicken and rajma-chawal in their lounge! The same can’t be said about flying British Airways though. They first converted without notice their business class flight into an all economy one, gave budget airlines a decent run for the money in their in-flight services, and kept me on tenterhooks till the end about delivering my luggage on time and in full.
However, all ended well – the Cannes weather and a friendly airport welcomed me. It was a first-ever that I have entered a country and not encountered unpleasant immigration officials – I was told that duty time was over and everyone had gone home! Contrary to the tales one had heard about the French, they were hospitable (even when I tried speaking to them in English).
Everything that you see here reeks of wealth and class and the sight of the Cote D’Azur (the blue coast) on La Croissette is a treat to the eye. A quick street side breakfast at an open air café, and I was ready to attack Cannes. Walking down the Palais des Festivals, the magnificent auditorium, the red carpets (with delegates competing with one another to take pictures) and the early morning sun bathers on the beach were just the right things to set high expectations for the day ahead.
The crowd at the registration and the first sessions were reasonable – though I am told that they are very good compared to last year – all signs that things are looking up for the global advertising and media world.
The sessions themselves were a mixed bag – some good ones (viral marketing and JWT’s works from around the world) to quite a few average ones. I wonder what kind of quality checks the organisers have on platforms like this and how some very ordinary speakers and sessions sneaked through the quality check. But then, those sessions also gave me the opportunity I needed to sneak out and explore a bit of Cannes town. Not surprisingly, one bumped into a few familiar faces – Piyush Pandey rushing back to his hotel, Bhaskar Das loitering around, and Colvyn Harris in some serious conversation. I am told that there is a fairly large Indian contingent numbering more than 200 – though I could not spot too many in the crowd.
Taking occasional breaks from the sessions also gave me the chance to browse through some of the shortlisted works which have been put up for display. Some of the outdoor work was superb and one noticed the fairly large representation from Latin America – notably Brazil and Argentina. There were some work from India, too, and that was gladdening. Hope they win some Lions and make us all proud.
Sessions over, there is a short break before the first of the award evenings for Promo, Activation PR and Direct start. Let’s see what’s in store for us.