The Cannes Canyon.



In view of the upcoming inaugural Cannes Health festivities, when we healthcare creatives finally get to party like our slightly better looking, richer, yet infinitely shallower consumer cousins, I thought I would start penning some thoughts about the general state of the industry from my point of view as a recent convert from the dark side.

Of course, I’ve already got it wrong, this Cannes, like its consumer cousin, is billed as a festival of creativity and is choc full of interesting seminars about big data, social media and the future of Pharma communications.

In that regard it is no different from the consumer version, it too is full of fascinating seminars and talks on the future of…well…consumer advertising.

The difference is that I guarantee the majority of delegates to Cannes Health will actually attend the seminars. They may even take notes and give interesting talks to their coworkers upon their return.

My one and only experience of Adland’s annual exodus to the Croisette was an unforgettable two nights some ten or so years ago when I was the guest of a TV production company, in their villa somewhere in the hills. A special chitty was issued from Mrs C on the strict assurance that if I returned even mildly hungover on the Saturday morning ( yes – missing the actual awards ceremony which of course I had no intention of attending anyway) and be in no fit state to attend our son’s school parent summer ball, then she would unleash hell.

I had sold this jaunt internally on the basis of networking. “You see, my love, this will be a chance to mix with some top level execs. It’s all about who you know in this game.” But upon arrival it swiftly dawned on me that I was the schmoozee not the schmoozer.

I suppose all the big cheeses were busy on their yachts, discussing mergers and acquisitions of the hottest companies and equally hot personal assistants. On land it was like freshers week with the added bonus of expense account money.

I won’t say it was unendurable; a long list of production company parties ( Partizan being the most memorable – featuring skaters and graffiti artists and DJ’s with unpronounceable names) and jingle-maker’s lunches populated with young beautiful people, isn’t as bad as it sounds.  But where were the high rollers I needed to mingle with? I suppose as a Creative Director at Havas (at the time EuroRSCG Wnek Gosper) I was a medium sized catch. I was the client that needed to be wined and dined and made to cough up a few scripts in return. Oh well, there are worse roles to be cast in.

I wonder what the Cannes health vibe will be this year? I may now be a little more senior, a little less inclined to embarrass myself through alcohol abuse (Hmm, we’ll see) but so much of my previous experience of Cannes hinged on the vast schmoozathon of suppliers parties, I wonder whether the experience will be even recognizable from the one that will succeed it a week or so later.

So the big question is: Who’s buying the drinks?

Maybe a more sober affair isn’t such a bad thing. Healthcare is, if nothing else, notable for having a considerably lower wanker head count and the lofty air of education and science is part of the fabric of the industry.

Ten years ago our villa just happened to be full of other younger and much cooler creatives than I (two of whom would actually pick up the Grand Prix that year) and consequently the pharmaceuticals were about as central to the festival as this years will be, albeit employed in a more practical manner.

Forty eight hours with no sleep, (due to the string of parties one simply had to attend not the aforementioned chemicals) and the constant thumping of dance music from below at 4am and I was a defeated man.

So taking myself off to bed at 2am on the Friday night I set my alarm for an ambitious 6.30am wake up to catch an 8am flight. No worries, I’ll pack in the morning.

I awoke to the sound of the doorbell and a taxi driver ready to leave NOW. Shit.

The ensuing panic was all shot at 5 frames per second. Clothes bag. pants on. no time for teeth. run. get in taxi. drive. shit shit shit. clutch chest.

Fortunately Mediterranean taxi drivers need no encouragement to drive like lunatics.

I attended my summer ball, slightly spaced out but definitely present.

This year my flight home is at a leisurely midday.

See you at those seminars.


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