To get to the hills above Cannes -- aka Super-Cannes -- you take a taxicab up through a maze of winding, narrow, jasmine-scented roads. There sit villas of all shapes and sizes, both sprawling and small, many with big lush yards, swimming pools and spectacular views of the city below and the blue Mediterranean beyond, streaked white with the wakes of massive yachts.
From this point of view, the rather gritty Cannes finally seems the playground room for the rich that it's popularly known to be. The trashiness is muted, replaced by pristine-looking hotels and docks and the whole thing just makes some sense again.
Many agencies and production companies rent these villas for the week for both a bit of cost-efficiency and to get away from the hubbub. Some have massive frat-type parties, others are more sedate. Falling into the latter camp was the production company Hungry Man, which held a barbecue late yesterday afternoon. For someone who's been subsisting on beer, whiskey and pizza for four days and getting elbowed in crowded sweaty bars, calm conversation fueled by a great spread of fresh-grilled lamb and sausage, spicy couscous and platters of tomatoes and mozzarella were nothing less than the rejuvenating.
It was an absolutely necessary break before plunging back into the festival social circuit, which yesterday continued to ramp up. The crowd swilling outside the Gutter Bar continues to metastasize and the terrace at the Carlton Hotel, where many of the ad world's big wigs stay and hence a more grown-up watering hole -- so grown-up, in fact, it's nigh impossible to get serve by the surly bar staff -- was full of big names: Interpublic CEO Michael Roth, @radical media's Jon Kamen, E-Trade's Nic Utton, TBWA's Tom Carroll, Michael Kassan, BBDO's John Osborn and Crispin Porter & Bogusky PR maven Katie Kempner, fresh from her agency's party.
Crispin's to-do was one of the most eagerly awaited because a) it's Crispin and b) the agency chose a new and little-known location this year, Le Grand Hotel, instead of its usual Gutter Bar setting. After a slow start, a roped off patch of grass in front of the hotel gradually filled, with people from competing agencies. Chuck Porter and a shorn Alex Bogusky were on hand, but so were PR folks and executives from DDB, R/GA, BBDO, McCann-Erickson, Publicis, and Deutsch, making it one of the more agency-diverse parties I've been to.
As we move toward the week's culmination and more and more big creative types and senior executives roll in, the party competition is heating up. Crispin, for instance, faced off against a rave-like offering from Massive Music that involved, as it was put to me, flesh-pressing and an MSN-sponsored carnival-type thing that had a mini freak show.
Who knows what lengths Leo Burnett and DDB will go to for their Friday night show down