Traditionally, of course, Cannes has been the preserve of the agency fraternity, with executives from around the world congregating in the Mediterranean sunshine to celebrate their creative achievements. In fact, in years gone by, marketers have been so few and far between that you could spot 'the client' a mile off padding uncomfortably up and down La Croisette wondering what on earth to make of it all.
This year, things were different. The marketing industry represented itself in force with brands including Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Kraft and Unilever taking centre stage at the Palais des Festivals. The worst ad recession in living memory cast its shadow, but the mood was optimistic.
As we explain on page three, P&G's global brand-building officer, Marc Pritchard, called on marketers to explore how brands can improve life. Meanwhile, Coca-Cola's commercial chief, Joseph Tripodi, emphasised the importance of creating emotional connections with consumers.
For me, however, it was Keith Weed, Unilever's chief marketing officer and Advertiser of the Year, who hit the nail on the head. 'Now's a really exciting time to be in marketing, advertising and communications,' he said. 'Anything is possible.'
This certainly seemed to be the feeling away from the conference hall, where marketers crowded the Carlton Terrace and Gutter Bar. Some were shopping for new agencies, some no doubt for new jobs, but on the whole most were just soaking up the atmosphere (and the rose).
Cannes Lions remains the world's leading meeting place for those in advertising. As such, it is encouraging to see marketers playing a more proactive role in how the industry is shaped.
This article was first published on marketingmagazine.co.uk