Jetting off to the South of France from New York, Chicago and San Francisco to meet with marketers from New York, Chicago and San Francisco might seem like pure luxury to anyone who doesn't work in advertising, but for media executives attending the Cannes Lions festival, it's a relentless few days of work.
"Cannes is one of the most intense conferences of the year," said Wenda Harris Millard, president-chief operating officer at MediaLink, a strategic advisory firm for media companies. "The reason that media companies need to be there is everyone, every brand, every agency, the senior-most people are there."
Media executives said it's not unusual to book a dozen or so meetings during the day and then hit five or six parties at night. As for sleep? You can do that when you get stateside.
"It's a beautiful place, but it's no vacation," said Jon Steinberg, North American CEO of The Daily Mail. "It's nonstop work."
Cannes has seen waves of media and marketing contingents arrive on its beaches. More than a decade ago, marketers from some of the largest companies -- including Procter & Gamble -- started showing up. Publishing execs followed and, not long after, Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook started taking over the beaches with their own lavish events. Last year, ad-tech companies turned up hoping to court festival attendees.
"The media companies who aren't there, I believe, are really missing out," Ms. Millard said.
Of course, all of this madness does take place in F. Scott Fitzgerald country (See: "Tender Is the Night"), where there's no shortage of beaches, yachts, swanky villas, chilled rosé and celebrities.
"It's a place to do business," Ms. Millard added, "but it doesn't suck that it's in the south of France."
This year, expect to see old and new media hosting parties and panels and inviting marketers to kick back in luxury villas. Curiously, one of the buzziest new-media companies, BuzzFeed, won't be throwing any ragers like it did at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, but staffers will be cruising around Cannes.
"We're not hosting any parties and events," one BuzzFeed staffer said. "Just there to crash on everyone else's yachts."
Here's what seven media companies -- including Age Age -- have planned for Cannes:
Daily Mail used last year's Cannes Lions festival to announce the hiring of Jon Steinberg. The party it threw -- aboard a yacht, naturally -- featured a cast fit for the tabloid aisle, including Kim Kardashian. Expect much of the same this year: a yacht party for clients with model Chrissy Teigen playing host, a couple of Jenners scheduled to attend and Samantha Ronson handling the music. In addition
to the party, Daily Mail is hosting a series of panels, one of which is an interview with Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel.
The New York Times
Executives from The New York Times will be part of panel discussions during Cannes Lions -- including CEO Mark Thompson, who's moderating a panel at the Mondelez Fearless Forum -- but the Gray Lady is also rolling out the red carpet for some of its most prominent women. The Times and Women in the World, the event series run by Tina Brown, are hosting a private rooftop dinner on June 24 with Ms. Brown, Times Columnist Maureen Dowd and Times Chief Revenue Officer Meredith Kopit Levien.
Still have questions about that "Mad Men" finale? Edward Menicheschi, chief marketing officer at Conde Nast and president of the Condé Nast Media Group, is interviewing series creator Matthew Weiner as well as WPP CEO Martin Sorrell at WPP's Stream event on June 23.
Women's fashion and lifestyle site Refinery29 is hosting an invitation-only villa, which a spokeswoman for the site called a "sanctuary for brand partners, executives and media alike, used for meetings, smaller get-togethers or just a place to stop by and relax from the bustle of the festival." That includes a couple of cocktail parties, where you'll see Refinery29 celebrating creativity and female empowerment.
Time Inc., the nation's largest magazine publisher, is throwing a party on June 24 aboard a large yacht -- billionaire Ron Perelman's yacht, to be exact. The invite-only affair includes 50-plus VIPs and entertainment from the world of stand-up.
Of course, you'll need some food to soak up all that wine. Vox Media, owner of eight websites including The Verge and Eater, is hosting a couple of parties, one of which is a barbeque on June 25 to mark its recent acquisition of tech site Re/code. And just in time for the festival, Eater assembled a special version of its Heat Map showing the hottest places to eat in Cannes.
What's Cannes without Ad Age? We're hosting a cocktail party to celebrate the winners of our annual Young Creatives Cover Competition. And for the first time, honorees from Ad Age's Women to Watch events around the world will get together for a Women to Watch reunion brunch.