The Publicis Group one-year Cannes ban was topic No. 1 at the Ad Age cocktail party Wednesday. Some execs from other holding companies saw it as a recruiting opportunity. Bryan Wiener, executive chairman at Dentsu Aegis's 360i, had a two-word comment for the record, for example: "We're hiring." Some thought it was the dumbest PR move ever to do it during Cannes when all the griping could be easily reported and disgruntled Publicis employees lured away. Some thought it was brilliant PR for maximum attention. One small agency executive said the industry is too obsessed with awards anyway. To anyone who would leave over not being able to win awards for a year, he said, "good riddance."
A man of many colored jackets, Unilever CMO Keith Weed carried three with him to wear today at Cannes. This action green at the Palais followed a rose-colored jacket during a Wall Street Journal panel an hour earlier.
Actress Helen Mirren believes a mix of self-doubt and self-confidence is healthy for creativity. "What forces you through as a creative person is this balance between the too much belief in yourself, overly self-confident, paralleled alongside incredible self-questioning and self-doubt, and it's the battle between the two of them that often creates a brilliant moment of imagination," said Mirren said at the "All Worth It: L'Oréal and Dame Helen Mirren Redefine Diversity" panel on Wednesday. "I don't want to take the self-doubt away because I think it's an important part of the creative process." To the young people in the audience and to first-time Cannes goers who may be "terrified you won't win an award – most of you probably won't," Mirren advised them to "just take that as a moment of 'Fuck them. I'm going to do something. Fuel for the future.'"
Stephen Quinn was a chief marketing officer for around 14 years between jobs at PepsiCo's Frito-Lay and Walmart. But he was never at Cannes until this year, in his role as chairman of the Association of National Advertisers' Alliance for Family Entertainment. There's an easy answer why he never came while he was at Walmart. "I would tell people my first trip to Cannes would be my last business meeting," he said -- meaning that Walmart would never have stood for it if he showed up on the French Riviera. Argue as one might the business case of coming to an assembly of the world's senior marketing and creative leaders, the optics of a week of partying in France were never going to fly in Bentonville. And that thing where Walmart executives aren't even supposed to accept a cup of coffee from a vendor? Well, OK, try to stop laughing now.
Creatives from Publicis Groupe agencies were surprised by new CEO Arthur Sadoun's plans to ban them from participating in the Cannes Lions festival and other award shows for the next year, shifting spending toward a new AI-powered professional assistant platform. Many creatives heard the news late this afternoon, although one upper level Publicis agency exec learned of it while at a dinner and said "I am shocked." He left the table to make calls to his home country, commenting that "Arthur likes to make things explode." Execs from Publicis agencies said Publicis Groupe represents the third biggest group of entries at the festival, behind Omnicom at No. 1, followed by WPP. Publicis networks include Leo Burnett, Publicis Worldwide, Saatchi & Saatchi and BBH. Trying to make the best of it, one creative said a one-year hiatus would allow more time for planning, free of the mad rush to prepare entries for festivals. There is already speculation that clients and production companies might fill part of the gap by entering work themselves for the next year that they hope will win prizes. Separately, festival-goers familiar with WPP have said those agencies were told to cut Cannes attendees by 50% this year.