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Andy Flemming's Now Utterly Predictable Cannes Diary

Awards and Events 171 Add to collection

Andy Flemming, Group CD, M&C Saatchi, Sydney represented Australia on the Cannes Cyber Lions jury. Flemming writes exclusively for CB and LBB.

Andy Flemming's Now Utterly Predictable Cannes Diary

Part One:

2:30pm: Apart from a few old ladies, the odd Russian prostitute and the absolute cock who zooms around the block continuously in his probably rented matte black Lamborghini, the Croisette is strangely quiet. A large crane opposite the hotel is assembling huge sections of what I'm told will be 'Spotify Beach', a place where I assume you'll be able to listen to music or share your playlists in some cutting edge digital programmatic way or something. Either way, I don't have a wristband to get in there. There are people walking around with armfuls of them. Fuck knows how as the thing hasn't started yet. I presume they're just thin, coloured strips of paper designed to get them laid.

FullSizeRender (1).jpg7:46pm Serious jetlag and free Rose are a hellish combination, especially when you're meeting up with your fellow judges for the first time. We're all wearing our plate-sized passes, but some people have put them on backwards by mistake. This leads to me spending an inordinate amount of time excitedly talking about mixed reality and digital with one of the people who work here. To their enormous credit they nod and smile politely until I stumble off into the wrong toilet. I eventually find the cyber group, an absolutely wonderful group from some of the best agencies in the world. We bond over stories of research groups and endless pitches before staggering off into the night. Someone suggests double whiskies at the Gutter Bar. This decision will cost me heavily in the morning. But hey, everything costs you heavily in Cannes. The whiskiesIMG_0642 (1).jpg alone were about thirty euros.

3:45am Wide awake and deeply hungover. I can't get back to sleep so I attempt to read but the words are multiplying thanks to the delightful cocktail of whisky, jetlag and rose. I lay in silence. In the distance, someone's having a loud party. Welcome to Cannes.

9:00am Judging. We sit in absolute silence and watch hundreds of case study videos. Most of them start with the line 'We live in a divided country.' That'll be the Trump affect kicking in. The Nurofen Plus isIMG_0649 (1).jpg kicking in too. Thank god for that.

8:55pm I'm stuck on my hotel balcony, a balcony that's literally inches wide. Like a fucking idiot I've closed the glass door behind me and to my horror it's clicked shut. As my hotel door is also locked and I don't have my phone, I'm seriously facing the horrific and deeply embarrassing prospect of having to sleep out here in my boxer shorts. I'm genuinely considering crawling along the ledge to get into the next room but as I'm not Jason Bourne I decide it's a stupid idea, especially as if the room next door is empty I'll have to crawl back again. I try to wave for help as I can see someone walking around in a dressing gown in one of the rooms opposite. For a brief moment, our eyes meet. As he closes his curtains with an angry flourish I immediately realise that all he would have seen is a middle-aged man wearing next to nothing sort of waving him over for an impromptu party or something.

9:20pm I need a wee. Badly. Normally, public urination isn't my thing but I've had a few beers earlier and the situation is becoming urgent.  As I lean over the guardrail and prepare to go for it I realise that the light breeze will probably mean everything will splash onto the balconies below me and I have absolutely no idea who's down there. It could be anyone. Knowing my luck, it'll be David Droga. I've heard the man's an absolute gentleman, but I think that would change pretty fucking quickly after a shower of beery wee. I decide to hold on, making the whole situation even more miserable.

9:55pm I'm saved. A maid has just walked into my room to drop off some bottled water (so much for locking your door from the inside, they can still get in.) As I violently bang against the window she looks up and laughs long and hard before letting me out. It's precisely this pause that leaves me with absolutely no doubt that she'll immediately tell the entire staff, thus completely destroying the rather cultured and professional image that I've been trying to put across over the last two days. I'm now going to be 'the idiot in room 358.' Fuck it. I'm changing hotels in a few days.

12:34pm Wyclef Jean is judging sound and causes a ripple of excitement when he turns up at our little juror lunch area. I say 'Don't look, but I think that's fucking Wyclef Jean' to one of my fellow jurors only to find that he's literally standing behind me. To add insult to injury, I find myself looking down at his pass to check his name WHILST HE'S WATCHING ME DO IT.

That's just the kind of thing I do.

Part Two:

It's hot as hell and I think the jury hate me

Gutter.jpegI spent my first four days in Cannes utterly convinced that I was immensely disliked by my fellow Cyber jurors. I'd enter the jury room every morning to hear stories of bonding over wonderful meals, hearty laughter and lifelong friendships being forged. At night, I'd sit alone, sadly trying to think of the exact moment I somehow alienated eighteen representatives of the world advertising community. A few days later I found out that they were all communicating on fucking WhatsApp. As I didn't have WhatsApp, or indeed remember being told to download the thing, as they gallivanted around town at night going to fabulous restaurants and bars I was playing Zelda. If it's any consolation, I'm quite far in now and have a pretty decent sword that glows blue. So, you know, fuck it.

As my fellow diarists have detailed the complicated judging process in forensic detail I won't bore you with another one. But if you're entering Cyber next year, here are a couple of quick tips. 1. Don't send in work that's not cyber at its very centre (or, quite frankly, shit.) 2. We know everyone 'massages' their engagement figures, but for god's sake make it believable. To explain the vast numbers we saw, most of the developed world must have decided to stop working, eating, sleeping and making babies, choosing instead to watch and share online content. I know I didn't. In the last few months I reckon I engaged with about three pieces in Australia. The rest of it was fucking awful.

jury.jpgThere's been a big push for diversity this year. The juries are split equally (as they always should be), and we're all on the lookout for work that objectifies either gender. To be absolutely honest, this has been one of the fairest, fun and most talented juries I've ever had the pleasure to be on. I'm also prepared to say on record that the female jurors kicked the living crap out of us with their lucid and perfectly constructed arguments. Colleen DeCourcy, our boss, is an absolutely remarkable woman and I found myself endlessly writing down practically everything she said so I could parrot it in meetings back home and sound great.

It's hot as hell in Cannes this year so I packed shorts. After wearing them just once, a delegate pointed to my ridiculously white legs and said I should go to the Shots party so I could become part of the 'light show.' I smiled politely, deciding not to tell her that she was dragging a long line of toilet paper from one of her shoes. That's Karma for you.

IMG_2754.jpgThe Shots party is one of the high points of the Cannes week and everyone tries to get in. We watched a completely naked couple with all of their clothes balanced on their heads attempt to get in via the sea. The crowd cheered them on until they were pounced on by security. Everyone booed until 'Blurred Lines' suddenly came on and everyone ran onto the dance floor to get nasty. I couldn't even get a canape so I left early. Most of the Cannes parties are all relatively similar. Thousands of gyrating ad folk, enormous queues for both beer and the toilets, loud Euro pop and the same line of tough looking security guards making sure nobody wades out into the sea to have a wee (or, indeed, attempt a sea born gatecrash.) But that's unless you get mysteriously invited to one of the secret ones. Parties held in huge chateaus miles out of town with open grounds and serious money thrown at them. I managed to blag an invite to one of them. Ed Sheeran played for about four hundred people followed by a long set by FatBoy Slim. I reminded FatBoy that his Dad is married to one of my oldest mate's Mum so he dragged me onto the stage for a selfie behind the decks. If it wasn't for the photo I'd still think it was a jetlag influenced hallucination.

I've changed hotels. I was in an expensive, sexy one full of famous people and observant waiters until the second the judging finished then it becomes an agency cost, which means I was whisked off to a place with considerably less stars. The shower head broke the minute I touched it but it's closer to the Palais, so at least I can walk there without looking like I've just walked out of the sea. (It's really THAT hot.) As an added bonus, it doesn't have a balcony, so I'm in no danger of getting locked out there. My horrifying and deeply embarrassing mistake is now one of the running jokes of the festival by the way. Everybody seems to have heard about it.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 10.23.02 pm.jpgOf course, the elite are staying in the Carlton. Or, as it's now been garishly rebranded 'SPOTIFY.' Next door to the Carlton hotel is a casino. Its placement is ironic as you're far more likely to lose your money on the terrace. 9 Euros for a small bottle of Evian? 24 Euros for a Vodka Soda? That's insane. It makes me wonder why they completely covered the hotel with Spotify branding. It's not like they need the fucking money. (Oh, and on that, if Cannes is supposed to be celebrating creativity, why are all the industry posters shit? They all use crappy puns or say things like 'turbocharge your business today!' Snapchat have gone one further and have installed a gigantic yellow Ferris wheel in front of the Palais. There were very few people riding in there when I walked past, presumably as the windows don't open, it'd be fiercely hot and feeling just like a rotary chicken isn't something people want to film for ten seconds and share on social.

IMG_2858 (1).jpgOf course, on the other side of the Carlton and just up the road is the infamous Gutter Bar. Obi Wan Kenobi once described Mos Eisley Spaceport as a 'wretched hive of scum and villainy.' He could have been describing the Gutter, which now has a huge fence around the perimeter and heavily armed police watching from across the road. Tired staff pour endless rounds of expensive beer into plastic cups for a seething mass of braying testosterone. The one time I tried to make my way through the place I saw an elderly couple with their dog walking past. They stopped and sadly watched as a large pool of (presumably) beer slowly ran down the pavement and directly across their path. Their little dog scampered through it leaving little beery footprints up the road. They must fucking hate this. Once a year they're invaded by thousands of expensive shirts pouring into parties, trying to get laid and falling over. It probably explains why the French who live here absolutely ignore zebra crossings. I've been nearly killed twice as they literally just accelerate through. (They also park where the hell they want. It's amazing. I got a $250 fine for dropping my kids off a month ago. Some dude parked his motorcycle ACROSS THE MAIN ROAD and nobody batted an eyelid. They just beeped a bit and went around him.)

IMG_0984.jpgSo, is Cannes worth doing? Admittedly, it means nursing an almost constant hangover but you leave with much more than when you start. You chat to amazing people who've done amazing things. You see work from every corner of the planet. You understand WHY things win and why things don't. It's like a reboot for your advertising brain. More importantly, if you're lucky enough to judge, you'll leave with friends for life. Incredible, creative individuals like Colleen DeCourcy, Benjamin Dessagne, Brett Colliver, Eric Weisberg, Gabriel Vazquez, Jordan Doucette, Juan Garcia-Escudero, Katrien Bottez, Lauren Connolly, Lisa De Bonis, Magnus Ivansson, Maja Folgero, Nathalie Peters, Niklas Lindstrom, Pablo Tajer, Pat Law, Ritu Sharda, Sergio Gordilho, Sotaro Yasumochi and Timm Weber. Guys, it was an absolute pleasure.

Au Revoir.

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Campaign Brief, Sun, 25 Jun 2017 10:49:04 GMT