David Reviews

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

CANNES 2024 - DAY 3
20 June 2024

Day 3 was split between the Palais, where DAVID once again took in a few panels, and a sea voyage to the Irlanda - a yacht moored a half mile from the coast. The French riviera's normally reliable weather had taken a bit of a turn, and there was a threat of rain in the air as DAVID started the day sharing stories with Raife Burchell over several morning coffees at a café on the Pointe Croisette. The rain fell half-heartedly throughout the day, but never fully delivered.

The Palais hosts a ludicrous number of events for those who've splashed out €4,095 (plus tax) for a week long delegate pass. As Lewis More O'Ferrall of the APA once pointed out to a representative of the Cannes Lions trying to persuade UK companies that delegate passes are worthwhile, there is such a thing as too much choice, and you're very aware as you look through all the options that you're going to miss some interesting opportunities.

The event which attracted the most attention yesterday was a conversation between Mark Read of WPP and tech bro cult leader Elon Musk. It must have been daunting for Read to sit opposite such a daunting figure, but if it had gone badly, he could always have pinned it on his predecessor in the big chair at WPP, as he usually does.

It was a significant coup for Cannes Lions to persuade Musk to speak, but their habit of inviting novelty interviewers to lead conversations neutered the opportunity One grossly overpaid man tossing softball questions at an even more grossly overpaid man is not a path to meaningful insights. And so it proved.

There was a much meatier event on the outdoor stage later in the day when director David Shane hosted a session called 'Comedy is hard AF'. Opting to show as well as tell, Shane ran a sketch throughout the discussion with the help of comedian Ed Night, who appeared in some excellent films for ITV X directed by Shane in 2022.

Despite the severe limitations of the setting and needing to rely on his other two guests and the event announcer to perform their roles in the unfolding sketch, Shane simultaneously demonstrated that comedy is "hard as fuck", and that he is very very good at it.

The main premise came about by accident. In May, Cannes Lions asked the director what he would need for the event, and he jokingly replied "a velociraptor costume". Accustomed to weirder requests than that from their cohort of celebrity guests, the festival unquestioningly provided it, and Shane decided to put it to use.

The ensuing funny business was premised on the idea that Ed Night was an unwilling participant, and he continually riffed angrily with David Shane - an excellent performer of comedy in his own right - as guests Julie Matheny and Greg Hahn answered questions about protecting comic ideas from the unhelpful interventions of those in agencies and clients who do not understand its rhythms and cadences. (Something that was being demonstrated in real time, judging by the proportion of the audience who appeared to think Ed Night's unhappiness with his costume was genuine.)

Earlier in the day, another brilliant comedy performer adorned a stage in Cannes when Sharon Horgan appeared alongside culinary personality Alix Traeger, Adam&eveDDB's Richard Brim and newly-anointed President of DDB Worldwide Chaka Sobhani in a session grandly entitled 'The Unreasonable Impact of Emotion'.

DAVID can't have been alone in feeling that Sobhani - one of the most interesting and unusual thinkers in the advertising industry - was on the wrong side of the discussion. As an interviewee, she would likely have provided some bright insights if she'd been answering rather posing the questions. It's like playing your star striker in goal.

As an interviewer, she made the rookie mistake (so often seen at Cannes) of working her way through prepared questions and thereby missing the opportunity to drill into what had just been said by her guests.

Consequently, the only insight was Sharon Horgan's admission that you often have to mislead commissioners to get stuff made. On the back of that admission, it would have been great to learn what Channel 4 and Amazon thought they were getting when Horgan and Rob Delaney pitched 'Catastrophe', and to question Chaka Sobhani and Rick Brim about similar shenanigans when selling ideas to clients... but, alas, it was not to be.

From there, DAVID hotfooted it to a pick-up point on the marina where he was to be collected, alongside a number of other people, to be taken to the Irlanda - a yacht in the temporary custody of Australian production company FINCH which was anchored half a mile from the coastline.

Onboard was the Rob Galluzzo - Finch's CEO - who possesses the delightful groundedness typical of antipodeans, even as he hosted in such an inherently ostentatious setting. Many of the other occupants - hosts and guests alike - were also from Australia and New Zealand, and the conversation flowed freely with a level of swearing that would have prompted an American to dive off the vessel and swim for the shore.

A few hours there was followed by a catch-up with the APA's Steve Davies after a chance meeting. While we were talking, John Hegarty hustled past with the energy of a man half his age and DAVID couldn't help noticing that he and Davies were sporting the same style of Robinson Crusoe beard. Is this a thing now? It surely will be soon with these wise influencers leading the way.

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