Adding a clean incision to this issue's festival postmortem, Jeff Goodby talks about judging Titanium work at Cannes while questioning the continued relevance of ever more award show entry categories. He also addresses that emerging conundrum-clients at Cannes. While he acknowledges the benefits of clients attending the event, Goodby doesn't pull any punches on the attendant change in the week's dialog and tone. "It's terrible," he says.
The fact that advertisers are there is, of course, inevitable-it reflects the growing acknowledgement of the importance of great creative. There is much to be gained for everyone, but if clients are there to recognize the importance of creativity, then shouldn't they adapt to the creative vibe, rather than the other way around?
The question brings to mind two stories about fish-out-of-water clients, each with a different ending. One is about a huge packaged goods advertiser going to innovation lab IDEO in search of a creative boost. Inside the loose limbed creative consultancy, the client's brand soldiers panicked. Where was the process?? After the initial anxiety, they apparently relaxed and learned something new. A creative director acquaintance tells the other story-about a huge advertiser that sought the services of a certain independent creative powerhouse after struggling with its ads for some time. The client got better work, but couldn't handle the agency's process-or lack thereof-and bailed out, thereby throwing the baby idea out with the stagnant procedural bathwater.
The early signs of clients adapting to Cannes are not encouraging. Too frequently this year, creative firebrands could be seen scurrying to early breakfast meetings or to strategy workshops disguised as dinners. Workshops aren't about creativity. That's why they're called workshops. As one worldwide creative director put it, Cannes is now "a seven-day client meeting, only you get to see your client wearing Bermuda shorts. Casual Cannes conversation is dead." Casual conversation doesn't make the ad world go round, you might argue. Maybe, but don't misunderestimate the value in free-flowing talk about the work, or let's be honest, just talking shit. From such raw material comes inspiration, or just the will to go on.
There are ample opportunities for creativity to be sapped out of creatives. A creative festival shouldn't be just another of those opportunities.