The falloff is not unusual for awards shows in a recession, although last week's London-based D&AD awards drew 21,500 entries, up from 19,000 last year. Cannes entries from the U.S., which normally enters almost twice as much work as any other country, fell by 193 to 2,382.
The biggest blow for the Cannes festival came from Brazil. Entries from that country were 1,197, down 38% from last year, when Brazil accounted for the second-highest number of entries after the U.S. The festival's Brazilian representative in Sao Paulo attributed the steep drop to the troubled economy and Brazil's weakened currency.
Delegate numbers are expected to be about the same as last year, with the U.S. contingent hovering between 350 and 400. Procter & Gamble Co.'s first-time delegation of 22 executives is creating a domino effect for its global agencies, who are delighting P&G account executives who never attend creative festivals with tickets to the south of France. Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Co., for instance, is sending Catherine Guthrie, a Chicago-based exec VP-managing director on P&G to Cannes for the first time.
Everyone is vying to entertain the P&G crowd. After the June 21 awards show, executives from Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi will whisk them off to dinner. "After the awards show, everyone turns up on the street and thinks about where to go and everywhere is booked," said Bob Isherwood, Saatchi's worldwide creative director. So he's taking his P&G flock to dine at the Martinez Hotel.
As a measure of fun and frivolity, Cannes' party meter doesn't offer a clear reading yet. There may be fewer organized festivities-J. Walter Thompson Co. axed its cocktail party, and McCann-Erickson Worldwide is not doing an event for the first time in years-but Wieden & Kennedy is planning its first Cannes party, right before DDB Worldwide's June 20 night beach bash. And there will be yachts, from MSN's corporate craft to London hotshop Clemmow Hornby Inge partying on a client's borrowed boat.