Jetting off to the South of France from New York, Chicago and San Francisco to meet with marketers from New York, Chicago and San Francisco might seem like pure luxury to anyone who doesn't work in advertising, but for media executives attending the Cannes Lions festival, it's a relentless few days of work.
"Cannes is one of the most intense conferences of the year," said Wenda Harris Millard, president-chief operating officer at MediaLink, a strategic advisory firm for media companies. "The reason that media companies need to be there is everyone, every brand, every agency, the senior-most people are there."
Media executives said it's not unusual to book a dozen or so meetings during the day and then hit five or six parties at night. As for sleep? You can do that when you get stateside.
"It's a beautiful place, but it's no vacation," said Jon Steinberg, North American CEO of The Daily Mail. "It's nonstop work."
Cannes has seen waves of media and marketing contingents arrive on its beaches. More than a decade ago, marketers from some of the largest companies -- including Procter & Gamble -- started showing up. Publishing execs followed and, not long after, Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook started taking over the beaches with their own lavish events. Last year, ad-tech companies turned up hoping to court festival attendees.
"The media companies who aren't there, I believe, are really missing out," Ms. Millard said.
Of course, all of this madness does take place in F. Scott Fitzgerald country (See: "Tender Is the Night"), where there's no shortage of beaches, yachts, swanky villas, chilled rosé and celebrities.
"It's a place to do business," Ms. Millard added, "but it doesn't suck that it's in the south of France."
This year, expect to see old and new media hosting parties and panels and inviting marketers to kick back in luxury villas. Curiously, one of the buzziest new-media companies, BuzzFeed, won't be throwing any ragers like it did at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, but staffers will be cruising around Cannes.
"We're not hosting any parties and events," one BuzzFeed staffer said. "Just there to crash on everyone else's yachts."
Here's what seven media companies -- including Age Age -- have planned for Cannes: