A newbie goes to Cannes

For the past few years, I've set aside the first week of March for my annual pilgrimage to Austin, Texas for Mexican food, barbecue and inspiration in the form of SXSW.

But this year, I decided to skip ‘spring break for geeks’ and opt instead for ‘spring break for marketing people'.

So I’m swapping margaritas for rose, and making my first trip to Cannes.

It’s all driven by the usual reasons, I suppose. I’m sure the networking, the sessions, the parties, and the food will all be great.

But there’s something more.

As an American living in London, but regularly travelling around Europe, the Middle East and Africa, I’m routinely frustrated that our perspectives tend to be so Anglo-American-centric. 

There’s so much more out there – a wonderful richness in ideas and culture that we too often overlook. Cannes is the rare exception. It showcases the best ideas from around the world, and shows the real creative magic from places like Bangkok, Sao Paul and Dubai instead of just New York, Chicago, London and Paris.

I’m also glad to see more PR folks making the trip. And while we’ve all been a bit tardy, PR’s growing presence and impact in Cannes demonstrates the convergence now under way across the marcoms industry. 

It also underscores for clients that a great idea really can come from anywhere.

Cannes also provides a superb measuring stick for our ideas and how we present them. 

As PR moves from its traditional roots in great writing towards wider expertise in visual content, film, and data, we should relish the chance to put our ideas up against the best of the best from across marcoms and see how we do. 

It also pushes us to do a better job presenting our work – and gives us a reason to invest in doing so beautifully.

Finally, I relish the chance for us to be more assertive. No serious creative doubts the importance of 'earned' in the media mix any more. And many are hungry to learn more about how to shape their ideas to be more newsworthy and shareworthy. They’re anxious to see and discuss examples as well. 

So I’m glad to see more PR firms hosting sessions, both officially and unofficially. But we need to work harder to build bridges with creatives in other marcoms disciplines, so that we turn the theory of convergence into an operational reality that results in better, more powerful ideas for our clients.

I suppose it’s fair to say that my expectations for my first trip to Cannes are high. I’m looking for inspiration and discovery of the highest order. And the opportunity for all of us seems tremendous. I can’t wait to get on the plane.

Marshall Manson is managing director, social, EAME, at Ogilvy

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