23 Jun 2015

Don’t Panic Cannes Diary 2015 – Monday

In which we discover that your average teenager knows more about the future of tech than Shingy (AOL’s digital prophet), that Martin Sorrell is one of the nicest men in advertising and that Marilyn Manson wants to fuck Jolyon’s hair.

Cannes! The beating heart (this week) of the advertising industry. The throbbing loins of global media networking. A sun-kissed paradise of opulent yachts and beautiful people. So what the fuck are we doing here?

Don’t Panic’s objectives include:

  • Win more shiny things
  • Find people who will buy us drinks
  • Drink
  • Get on someone’s (anyone’s) yacht
  • Give out lots of business cards
  • Remember how le France parlez un petit peu
  • Talk to the most interesting people in Cannes

Our Cannes experience started with much Gallic gesticulation and red-facedness as Joe protested the multiple costs added to our cab fare for luggage, airport pick-up, being English, breathing…. Little wonder the taxis are so aggressively terrified of Uber down here. You can’t fight progress, France!

We dumped our bags in our AirBnB, tossed a coin for rooms, quickly consumed some delicious French cheese and a bottle of undrinkably awful rosé of the kind they reserve purely for tourists, and headed out to La Croisette to see what we could find. And what we found almost straight away was friend-of-Don’t-Panic (and Global Chief Commercial Officer of Amnet) Louisa Wong to get us into one of the garishly brand-laden private beach villas that crowd loudly along Cannes’ harbour front, ensuring none of the locals get any funny ideas about sitting on their own beach.

Cannes Beach

It was a fine start; and while we sipped G&T, reclined on the weird beach-beds and let the sun gently kiss our pale London skin, it occurred to us that this wasn’t such a bad way to spend a Monday, was it? Did life get much better than this? Even though we had to listen to people claim that CSR was the new ROI?

Well, yes it did. Almost immediately. Because that’s when our mortal advertising eyes were blessed by the ethereal sight of Shingy, AOL’s digital prophet. How often does one get to sit at the feet of a digital seer and hang on their every 140-character utterance about the future of social? This was our chance to find out which next thing would be next! We sent Jolyon to bear witness:

We looked hard for teenagers after that. Not in that way but, yes, it’s as weird as it sounds. Because, according to the prophet Shingy, they’re part of a secret society known only as the consumers and trendsetters of tomorrow and no man can penetrate their inner sanctum. No, we said not in that way!

It was beginning to get late, so after a brief stop for pizza, we wandered down to the marina where Joe claimed he had wangled us onto a yacht. Half-a-mile of millionaire play-things stretched away in front of us, a solid wall of floating money that culminated in the Daily Mail’s huge temple to excess at the end of the quay. Fortunately, this was not our destination, although we were sad to miss out on the opportunity to “mingle with celebrity guests such as DJ Sam Ronson and Daisy Lowe.”


But Joe really had got us onto a yacht, where we achieved one of our objectives: talking to some of the most interesting people in Cannes.

Things we learned on the yacht:

      – Martin Sorrell is actually really charming and down-to-earth and, when Richard gave him his business card because “you’ll probably want to buy us in a couple of years,” he laughed and gave us his card in return.
      – ITV’s director of television, Peter Fincham, will never commission a show like The Revolution Will Be Televised, even though he really likes it.
      – Someone on the Daily Mail’s floating palace had to be ambulanced away. Surely not as a consequence of any behaviour middle-England wouldn’t approve of, because that would be HYPOCRITICAL.
      – Marilyn Manson would fuck Jolyon’s hair.

Manson wants to...

The day ended with one, glaring exception to our long list of achieved objectives: no shiny thing! Our Greenpeace LEGO video made the shortlist for Promo & Activation, but went no further. It was always a long shot, given it wasn’t actually a promotion or an activation, but it was worth a try. We still have two categories left, as well as a hopeful in the Film: Young Director category for our recent Markus-Lundqvist-helmed video for Human Appeal. Fingers crossed the days to come will be shinier.