Canneticipation is building

The annual Festival of Creativity in Cannes in the South of France is just weeks away and excitement is building as show time approaches.

I know a lot of people get heartily sick of everyone droning on about Cannes at this time of year.

It’s as if the whole world and his wife are going to be on the Cote D’Azur later this month, when in reality it’s just a lucky fraction of the marketing and communications community.

Having said that, it’s still one of the most concentrated and elevating weeks of the year in terms of highlighting best practice in all of marketing’s disciplines and getting inspiring people together in one place who we can learn from and import their wisdom into our daily practice.

And everyone can now benefit from the thought leadership, debates, content, and case studies coming out of the South of France in June, whether they are in situ or not.

Comprehensive coverage includes our own excellent channel PRWeek.com, our Haymarket sister titles’ content, and the Campaign@Cannes blog, to which we will all be contributing. We also have a TV studio in place on the beach next to Le Palais des Festivals this year.

So I’m afraid you’ll have to excuse me, I’m going to push on with the Cannes chat…

PR pros still have a slightly divided view on Cannes, borne of historical frustration with ad agencies carrying off all the PR prizes. And, let’s not forget, PR has only really been part of the program for the last seven years, so the sector is still playing catch-up when it comes to learning how to win awards.

I am hopeful that this year could be a breakthrough one for PR. Agencies have learned how to better present their work to the Cannes jurors, absorbing lessons along the way from their advertising and creative counterparts.

Most of the big shops have now had one of their senior executives serve as chair of the PR Lions judging process – this year it is Lynne Anne Davis, FleishmanHillard’s president of Asia Pacific. They will all have gained great insight into the process, and no doubt been made fully aware of its frustrations too.

Ogilvy PR’s global CEO Stuart Smith, Edelman’s New York president Jen Cohan, and Burson-Marsteller’s UK CEO Amanda Pierce are also among this year’s cosmopolitan group of judges from around the world.

In terms of other Cannes trends this year, I expect there to be the usual infighting over who gets the credit for particular pieces of winning campaigns from the different agencies that worked on them, there will be more focus than ever on celebrity on the main program and we'll all wonder what we're actually learning from them, PR will have its biggest-ever presence and will finally break through properly, oh, and someone will put their back out trying to pour from a jeroboam of Domaines Ott at the Carlton Hotel.

For those of you who are heading to the South of France, I hope to see you there. We have our inaugural Cannes PRWeek Cocktail Party at the Carlton Hotel on Tuesday after the PR Lions awards ceremony. Please contact my colleague Thomas Renaud to RSVP. Let’s hope there will be lots to celebrate for the PR community.

We’re also running a great panel on Disruptive Innovation, in partnership with MSLGroup, on Tuesday morning at 10:00am. Contact me if you’d like to attend: panelists include Uber, Mondelez International, Roc Nation, and Leo Burnett and MSL themselves - the latter two were responsible for one of the likely standout campaigns of the week: Always #LikeAGirl for Procter & Gamble.

PRWeek has put together a fantastically useful guide to Cannes that will stand you in good stead for your visit, containing the thoughts of this year's judging chair, the launch of the Creative Data Lions, and the wish lists of regular visitors.

And, a few years back, our colleagues at Campaign UK ran a hilarious survival guide from CHI & Partners’ creative director Jonathan Burley that might be a bit risqué (health warning: not for the easily offended), but certainly contains excellent practical advice for those intent on enjoying themselves to the full as well as soaking up all that delightful creativity.

See you on La Croisette!

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