David Reviews

 "You're not an artist, Peggy. You solve problems." Don Draper.

CANNES 2024 - DAY 2
18 June 2024

Day 2 in Cannes was enlivened by the arrival of the Olympic flame as it makes its way to Paris ahead of the start of the games at the end of next month. DAVID lined up alongside the expectant crowd that began gathering around 11.00 in anticipation of witnessing a journey down the Croisette for this iconic symbol of the quadrennial event.

Confusion reigned as everyone tried to work out what was going to happen and where. There was a bustle of excitement when a van suddenly ripped past the Palais and came to a screeching halt around a hundred meters down the closed section of the Croisette. But it was just an officially sanctioned souvenir seller, who proceeded to blare gay anthems from his vehicle in a curious bid to drum up business.

The police rode up and down the closed road on their motorcycles, pausing occasionally to address questions from the crowd. Based on what I overheard, they had no more idea than anyone else what exactly we were waiting to see. This did little to dim the excitement.

A second souvenir van pulled off the same fraudulent trick as the first, but veterans who had been waiting for forty minutes for goodness knows what weren't going to be fooled again, and its advent raised barely a murmur.

Then, suddenly, a motorcade of black luxury vehicles that looked like it might contain Logan Roy, his family and their entourage pulled up, followed by a number of floats belonging to the Olympics' regular sponsors, and there was a great cheer. It had arrived.

A man resembling Jeremy Corbyn then posed with the unlit torch, while someone dressed as Phryge - the official mascot of the Paris Olympics - hovered menacingly behind. Was this what we had come to see? No one appeared to know.

'Jeremy Corbyn' adopted a number of poses before the flame was lit and he handed responsibility for transporting the flame to actress Halle Berry, who walked it down the Croisette, before passing it to Megan Rapinoe, Paul Rabil and Shaun White.

Those cheering from the sidelines appeared to mostly be locals rather than denizens of the Festival of Creativity, and this was borne out by a couple of lanyard wearers who spoke to 'Page 6' .

That's the spirit.

Earlier, DAVID caught up with Lisa Mehling of Chelsea Pictures of New York. The aim was breakfast but we were thwarted by a power cut at the café where we met. So we found another. They were also affected by the power cut, but we eventually found a café where the waiters were in a position to do more than shrug and serve luke-warm orange juice, and we conversed over coffee and tea, both hot, as God intended.

Our conversation was dominated by the hot topics of Cannes 2024: the rise and rise of AI hype, and the big networks' brazen attempt to make in-house production the default setting.

Our conversation was confidential so DAVID won't reveal Lisa's take on these issues except to say they are as cogent, intelligent and penetrating as anyone who knows her would expect.

In many ways, the most astounding thing about the recent pronouncements has been the confidence of those behind these moves that they can do a better job than the specialist suppliers who have decades of expertise. Given this certainty, and the fact 'in-house' has been a phenomenon for some time, these visionaries must be able to point out countless examples of brilliant and effective advertising that's been made wholly by advertising agencies... so it's very peculiar that they don't.

There will be more - much more - on this vital issue in DAVID in the coming weeks.

One of the other interesting discussions with Lisa centred on the advice we share with Cannes debutants. These can mainly be placed under the banner 'Do Everything on Your Own Terms (If You Can)'.

It is too easy to be dragged this way and that by the endless networking and social opportunities of the festival in full flow, and it can be hard to decide which way to jump. So, if your circumstances permit it, you should be guided by whatever it is you most want to do. It will probably be as productive as anything you feel you ought to be doing, and a lot more fun.

As was mentioned in yesterday's bulletin, DAVID's peculiar dislike of large gatherings and the accompanying hedonism guides him towards the public beach at the far end of the Croisette, and a search for other activities that have nothing to do with the festival (on which more later), but if partying is your thing, then do that. Just try not to do anything that will earn you a nickname for the rest of your career.

For the second day running, an existing arrangement fell through, and DAVID found himself with a gap in his schedule.

It was swiftly filled by a fortuitous meeting with the delightful Yann Brindejont of the excellent French language journal 'Packshot'.

DAVID and Packshot have much in common, and it is always cathartic to share our mutual woes, and swap advice about doing business in a sphere increasingly dominated by an unhealthy pre-occupation with the visibility of submitted work, rather than an holistic appreciation of the coverage as a whole. (It's hard to know who ushered this self-defeating approach into existence, isn't it!)

After this, DAVID had a fascinating conversation about chemistry meetings with Jon Forsyth and Simon Massey, founders of Neverland, at what was, for all intents and purposes, a chemistry meeting.

The duo had just arrived in Cannes and, rather charmingly, it was Simon's first ever visit. He was wide-eyed at the scale of all that lay before him, and it'll be very interesting to learn what he made of it all when we catch up in July to record the podcast we briefly discussed.

DAVID had to speed off because, speaking of podcasts, it was almost time to record one with the founders of the production company Hamlet. A mad dash later and he found himself in the company of Reuben and Jason, and preparing to film them for 'Foundation Stories', a new strand of content which will be available from September.

The recordings of this podcast have all been excellent fun, and this one was no exception, and DAVID is certain you're all going to enjoy getting to know one another a little better once we begin posting them.

That was the end of the working day, until the authoring of this... so DAVID headed down to the beach for another early evening swim, with his friend Raife Burchell providing the entertainment with another of the stories from his amazing repertoire.

This daily ritual is all about doing Cannes on our own terms, and no matter how much pressure you're under to keep up with a breakneck schedule devised by your cruel and unreasonable boss, you can make time for a restorative dip in the Mediterranean. You'll be glad you did.

Around the corner from our accommodation, there is a pétanque club and when DAVID visited it yesterday, he was impressed by the skill of the players, young and old, as they practised their sport. Their accuracy was unerring, and the aggression something to behold.

One player appeared intent on using one of the heavy metal balls to deflect another into the shin of your correspondent. Discretion being the better part of valour, DAVID decided to reposition out of the firing line, and photograph him from afar.

Today, Yann was able to explain something pinned to the wall on the equipment shed at the pétanque that caught DAVID's eye, and prompted his eyebrows to rise a couple of feet above his head.

Apparently, the poster is part of a tradition in the sport whereby anyone who loses a contest by 13-0 has to endure the further humiliation of kissing Fanny's arse.

This revelation led to a discussion about the difference between American slang and British slang in reference to the word 'fanny', and why the American colloquialism 'fanny pack' sounds very strange to British ears.

Every day's an école day.

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