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Pratap Bose’s Blog@Cannes: In august company

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Pratap Bose’s Blog@Cannes: In august company

The big guns were on show on the penultimate day in Cannes. When you have names like David Droga, Chuck Porter, Sir Martin Sorrell, Tim Mellors, Yoko Ono, Jon Wilkins, Bob McDonald ( CEO of P&G ), the new CMO of Unilever (Keith Weed), and James Hilton from AKQA, among others, the expectations are naturally sky high.

Though I was thoroughly exhausted by the end of the day, I must admit it was day well spent. I realised that listening to power packed sessions for eight hours is as tiring as actually having to present yourself.

Chuck Porter was brilliant in his advice to all those looking to break out and start up their own agency from scratch. I particularly liked three things that he said:

• Hire people with Brains, Talent, Passion, Creativity and Experience in that order

• Hire Ninja Account people. Those who will die to make ideas work

• Go out on a limb. Way out. Don’t play safe with clients and give in to what they want. Give them what you believe in.

David Droga spoke extempore on the same subject, and when David speaks… you listen. His mission statement for Droga5 is to be “the most influential creative agency in the world”. One can’t disagree with him on that can you? Especially, after having won three Titanium awards at Cannes three years in a row.

I pushed myself into a seat on the second row to listen to the Cannes Debate between Martin Sorrell (the interviewer) and the CMO of Unilever Worldwide Keith Weed. Before the interview started, I thought to myself that my ex-super boss was going to be his usual incisive self and completely overwhelm his interviewee. To my utter surprise, not only did Keith Weed hold his own, but he was hugely impressive in his responses.

Sir Martin did ask him the difficult questions, but he replied with wit and aplomb. He likened digital marketing to “high school sex”, when he said “a lot of people are talking about it… there are very few people doing it… and those doing it aren’t exactly doing it right”. That was hilarious, and so apt, if I may add.

Another great line from him was: “Social media is the modern form of letter writing”.

I decided to give the Yoko Ono interview with Tim Mellors from the Grey Group a miss because I can’t fathom why you would interview Yoko Ono to get her perspective on the music and recording business? As far as I am concerned, her only claim to fame, apart from being John Lennon’s wife, was her invitation to the press to shoot her naked in bed with John! Cannes obviously didn’t subscribe to my views, considering the long queues of people waiting to be seated, but what the heck – that’s my view!

In between sessions, my Blackberry confirmed a total wash-out for India in the Integrated, Titanium and Film Craft categories. The woes for India continue and our only hopes left are the five shortlists in the Film category. While I’m not too hopeful, all I can say is “fingers crossed”.

Another client that I was hugely impressed with today was Bob McDonald, the CEO of P&G. Unlike the other ‘super bosses’, who pop in just for their bit on stage and then fly out, Bob apparently has been in Cannes for a long time meeting people, taking notes and making connections with the advertising fraternity here on show.

In his own words: “I want P&G to digitise its workflow and be the most technologically enabled company in the world”. That was terrific, coming from the biggest FMCG company in the world, and on the subject on the importance of advertising agencies, he said, “You can’t digitise great creative ideas”.

Tomorrow is the final day at Cannes and I’m seriously contemplating spending time with my wife Seema at St Paul de Vence, which is a traditional French village near Nice. It’s been fun this week, but it’s been strenuous nonetheless, and me thinks I deserve a break.

If you miss my blog tomorrow, you will know that I did take that decision to go.

Au Revoir to you all.


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