Answer: Cannes, of course.
Everyone in our business is looking for the big idea these days. We're all creatives now. And those are my personal memes, my primary takeaways, from the International Festival of Creativity's now essential annual gathering in the south of France last week.
As it was last year, Cannes 2011 was an invigorating and productive week in which even the extraordinary work being honored in the Palais took a back seat to the serious business getting done everywhere else. No surprise why: one out of every five people at the Festival was a client, many of them C-suite players. About 450 companies showed the flag.
Actually, Cannes is getting even more vibrant—and vital—than it ever was when it was just a large and flamboyant international ad awards show and a bunch of really cool beach parties. Even more so than last year, when I remarked that the event was becoming a must-attend for every serious marketer.
Maybe too much of a must-attend, because this is becoming an onslaught. Cannes recorded a nearly 20% rise in attendance in 2011. And while I've never subscribed to the "velvet rope" concept, the day is probably not far off when Cannes will have to consider whether or not it has become too robust.
That being said, I think the biggest reason why Cannes has become so important is because attending is like going to Switzerland for a private face-to-face with a few thousand of your most important colleagues, clients and frenemies. Everybody checks their weapons at the Carlton Terrace and buys everyone else a glass of Rose.
The Festival is neutral ground, a place to talk seriously but in as relaxed an environment as you can possibly find (yes, I proudly wore the 2011 version of my power pink again this year) about the issues of the day and the business opportunities at hand. Cannes is Switzerland also because all sides of the ecosystem intermingle all day and night. Creatives, clients, media executives, digerati, they're all there. Which is where the digital dealing comes in.
This year, the organizers could just as easily have stretched a banner across the Croisette that read "Welcome to the Digital Upfront" because it was extraordinary how much direct talking was being done between digital sellers and clients. All the digital heavyweights were there: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Twitter. All talking with CEOs and CMOs. And, as my good friend Jack Myers noted this week in his latest Media Business Report video, it begged the question: where were the broadcasters (and their cable counterparts) and magazines? Why are they not well- represented under the Gallic sun by now?
Heady stuff and it's hot down there, too. So after a week in Cannes, what better way to rest, unwind and renew than a good, anything-but-old fashioned Shabbat dinner? Yes, Shabbat.
This was the unique event at Cannes and it deserves to be a tradition that happens every year.
Y&R CEO David Sable somehow found a—probably the only—Kosher caterer in the south of France and got them to drive down from Nice to put on an amazing dinner for a few dozen of his closest Cannes friends. It was unbelievable, and I'm not just talking about the somewhat challenging Kosher rose (the caterer, I'm told, wouldn't show up if the wine was treif).
Here were creatives breaking bread with producers sitting next to clients chatting away with agency executives. Jews in yarmulkes from Brooklyn sharing a meal with delegates from Abu Dhabi. Talk about a metaphor for the whole week!
And fittingly, the meal was served family style.MediaBizBloggers is an open-thought leadership blog platform for media, marketing and advertising professionals, companies and organizations. To contribute, contact Jack@mediadvisorygroup.com. The opinions expressed in MediaBizBloggers.com are not those of Media Advisory Group, its employees or other MediaBizBloggers.com contributors. Media Advisory Group accepts no responsibility for the views of MediaBizBloggers authors.