Cannes Lions

'If Your Client Is McDonald's, I'm Sorry': Harvey Weinstein Will Not Give Maurice Levy a Break

Client McDonald's Comes Up in Stage Discussion at Cannes

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Maurice Levy, right, discusses McDonald's and creativity during his talk at Cannes with Harvey Weinstein.
Maurice Levy, right, discusses McDonald's and creativity during his talk at Cannes with Harvey Weinstein. Credit: Christian Alminana/Courtesy of Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is packed with master connectors, but the most connected of all might just be Miramax co-founder Harvey Weinstein, who in the course of a 45-minute conversation with Publicis Chairman-CEO Maurice Levy managed to name-drop about 20 major celebrities in both the entertainment and ad worlds.

Among them were George Clooney, Danny Devito, Bradley Cooper, Jennifers Lawrence and Aniston, Quentin Tarantino, Martin Scorsese, Joaquin Phoenix, Bryan Cranston, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Michael Keaton, Paul Newman, Tommy Hilfiger and Bob Iger along with Netflix's Cindy Holland, AOL's Tim Armstrong, Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Cablevision's Jim Dolan.

In a wide-ranging discussion on content and the intersection of brands and entertainment, Mr. Weinstein said integrations must be seamless. In fact, Mr. Weinstein said he was working on something "that takes a piece of IP and creates a movie around it and there is not going to be a mention of the brand in it. " (He refused to get more specific, whereupon Mr. Levy joked that the audience "would not write about -- In fact, they are not even listening.")

When Mr. Levy asked whether big screens in movie theaters are going to die, Mr. Weinstein said they would not, but that content will be specially created for each screen. He mentioned that his company is going to make a movie called "Lion," based on the true story of a 5-year-old Indian boy who grows up on the streets and finds his way back with Google maps. "If Google doesn't support that, it will be Facebook maps," joked Mr. Weinstein.

But in addition to blockbusters like "Lion," which is being shot in Australia "in epic size and scope," Mr. Weinstein said there is still room for quality, episodic short films. "I hope Tim Armstong is listening," he said.

When asked by Mr. Levy whether directors like Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino will make 10-minute films, Mr. Weinstein was quick to respond: "It's not going to happen. Not if you want to live."

While the discussion not surprisingly gave big props to Publicis client Samsung, another marketer on the agency's roster didn't do so well. In discussing the film "The Founder," about McDonald's founder Ray Croc, Mr. Weinstein said after seeing it he would never eat there, noting "if your client is McDonald's, I'm sorry." Whereupon Mr. Levy looked at him and deadpanned, "Up til now we had a great relationship."

As for other clients, Mr. Weinstein said he has a great idea for Coca-Cola -- which he wouldn't discuss.

And continuing a theme that has resonated throughout the week -- the collision of data and creativity -- Mr. Weinstein received a huge round of applause when asked by Mr. Levy if the future of movies will be based on big data. His response: "We used our gut on 'Marco Polo.'"

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