Sean Combs, a.k.a. P. Diddy, rose to fame as a hip hop artist and producer but these days may be more recognizable as a pitchman for brands including Van Heusen, Estee Lauder, Diageo, Pepsi and Macy's. And of course there's also his own Ciroc, own of the best-known vodkas in the United States.
When he spoke to advertisers at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity on Tuesday, however, he didn't even pretend to like ads. "I hate watching commercials just like anybody else," he told them.
Much of his hour-long talk centered around plugging his new cable channel Revolt, which he says is his answer to the death of music videos being played on MTV -- and will rely on commercials for revenue.
"It will be the new number one name in music," said Mr. Combs, adding that the channel will cover music in "a journalistic way."
"We will also be a connector to the advertisers who don't know who's the real deal," he said. "Instead of being late, you can get there early and utilize our partnerships with artists to do brand deals."
In true celebrity style, he arrived bedecked in a white suit and dark shades and started his session late fashionably late. But it paid off with some expletive-laden soudbites, bold proclamations and moments of borderline-embarrassing honesty. It felt a bit like the ad industry's version of Kanye West's recent interview with The New York Times. Below, a few highlights.
On ads sucking:
"I hate watching commercials just like anybody else. .. The truth will set you free and I'm here to tell you the truth. If you aint gonna be great go home and get the fuck out of the room right now!"
On ads working regardless:
"I saw this Dannon yogurt commercial and these berries were looking so delicious. I yelled out to my girlfriend, I said 'Baby, go to Whole Foods and get me some Dannon yogurt."
On the Apple-Samsung War:
"I don't have a Samsung. But anybody that works for Apple [in this room right now], Samsung is on that ass right now. That's because they teamed up with the cultural needle-movers."
On the secret to staying on the cutting edge of pop culture:
"I'm extremely immature. I'm a child in a grown man's body. I'm actually at the party. I keep a lot of kids around me and ask them questions and peek around the corner when they think I'm not listening. My master plan was I had a lot of kids. I have six kids. Three girls that are six, a 15-year-old, 18-year-old and 22-year-old. I have the perfect research team in my house."
On the companies that inspire him:
"I'm truly taking a page out of ESPN's book [with Revolt]. ... They cover sports in a way that's credible and a way that you trust." Richard Branson was another he mentioned, noting that he likes disruptors, risk-takers. "I love what Red Bull does."
On the notion that the music industry is in trouble:
"The music industry is in its most successful phase. It's getting consumed at an all time high." He added that top folks on Instagram and Twitter are music artists, which means they are the most culturally relevant to young audiences. "That's a lot of power."