So, I was heading to the Palais des Festivals for the awards ceremony honoring radio, media and outdoor Lions, when I noticed a cocktail party taking place on the swank, poolside terrace beside my hotel. Not being a drinker, I could care less about the open bar; it’s the people that make these things work.
And man, did I see people. Kraft Foods was hosting a gathering to honor one of their guests, who was featured at one of the better-attended events at the Palais, none other than the famed auteur, Spike Jonze.
For those unawares, Jonze directed Being John Malkovich, Adaptation and more recently, Where the Wild Things Are. Two of these films are in my top twenty of all time and all three are universally regarded as brilliant. In addition to revolutionizing music videos, he’s also made numerous groundbreaking films for our industry, including one of the best commercials ever created, Ikea Lamp, which garnered every award possible the year it came out, not the least of which a Grand Prix at Cannes. This year he has a 30-minute film in the show about robot love. The piece can be viewed here: Spike Jonze Film \"I\'mheremovie\"
Confession: Hours ago I played courier in a futile attempt to deliver my novel, The Happy Soul Industry and screenplay to his hotel. Yeah, I know, a total mook move. But a guy can dream…
Along with Mr. Jonze, attending the party were Bob Jeffries, Howard Draft, Dana Anderson, Ron Bess, Jonathan Harries, David Jones, Mark Figliulo, Abbey Klaassen, Diane Jackson, Lisa Wells, Tony Weisman, Edie Weiss and leadership personnel from USA Today, Hyper Island, MJZ films and countless other Ad Land movers and shakers. To appropriate a phrase from high school: it was like the C-Suite “on acid.”
Needless to say, I missed the awards ceremony. But that’s the thing with Cannes. Everywhere you turn is an existing/potential boss, partner, competitor, or client and, most importantly, mentor. To meet some of these people, however briefly, is a privilege. And besides, even if Spike Jonze has little interest in my book, I can now say I had a meeting with him!
To view a wide selection of Jonze’s work: Spike\'s ouevre.
A new kind of agency!
I attended the USA Today dinner honoring all the US judges participating in the Cannes festival. As it is every year, the dinner was at famed restaurant, Le Moulin de Mougins just outside of Cannes.
At the event were many of our country’s leading advertising and marketing professionals, including the following: Bob Greenberg, Gerry Graph (jury), Michael Roth, David Lubars (head juror), Tom Bernadin, Ty Montegue, Howard Draft, Tom Bedecarre’ and dozens of others whose names and faces you’d recognize. Other jurors invited were Rich Silverstein, Nick Brien and David Droga. In addition, I was able to identify various marketing big wigs from Kraft, P&G and McDonalds.
You get the idea. If someone dropped the proverbial bomb on Le Moulin the US ad industry would be decimated. Which got me to thinking…
What if someone did, God forbid, drop a bomb on the place? After the dust cleared, would our much-maligned industry suffer even further or, as many cynics have suggested, would the elimination of so many big shots suddenly clear the decks for a faster, brighter and sharper version of…them?
I know this sounds morbid. Terribly so. But that’s what I thought about as I exited the restaurant into a parking lot full of waiting Mercedes sedans. The drivers were all lined up like West Point Cadets. Upon seeing a colleague exit and me they descended upon us. Seriously, folks, it was like Night of the Living Limo Drivers.
Conversely (and less morbidly), what would happen if Le Moulin somehow became transported to the proverbial desert island? None of us very good at actually making things, could we survive? If so, would we form a huge holding company, give each other untold shares, and go about bamboozling the indigenous people into hiring us?
Hey, I’m only kidding!
USA Today threw a lovely soiree and I felt privileged to have been there, let alone invited. One of the most fun things about coming to Cannes is the opportunity to meet so many VIPs of our industry, and not just from the creative ranks. At any given moment you might bump into your mentor, idol, future or former boss. Pretty scary. Pretty cool.
From Talent Zoo, #canneslions