Returning to the Holy Grail of Advertising, and wondering why!

13 August 2015
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BY THE SLEDGEHAMMER-

After a seven hour flight from KL and three hour transit in Dubai, I walked down three floors to tarmac level where the people-mover waited to ferry us to our plane for Nice. 

I hadn't been to Cannes Lions, the mecca of advertising, in recent years but a blurry flashback to 10 years ago when Malaysia won Cannes Grand Prix set my mind wandering. The following year Malaysia won the most metal at Cannes across Asia, ex Australia! 

I thought a quick scan around the bus would show up some Cannes goers. Trouble is they are all new faces to me. And they are swaying with the swerving bus whose driver thinks he is flying us there. 

Most of the faces look tired, long flight the leg before maybe, looking like confused misfits in an unforgiving world... 

The industry has gone from Mad Men to Math Men, as they say. Before that the media mafia held sway. And now the Digeratis are touching the face of God. 

Did creativity shy away? Like the music? 

So why do creative mortals still go to Cannes?  

Perhaps, that's the only place left on the planet where they meet their own and take solace. Or is it to grieve their relevance? 

Sweet revenge after being beaten up by accountants all year round? Replenish their reason for being? 

I swear the man standing next to me is Ian Batey... Or someone trying to look like him... 

Is everyone in this wide-body bus going to the Festival? Why do they look like zombies going to be dealt another cruel twist of fate? Isn't this supposed to be the thrill of a lifetime instead? 

One white sneakered chappy, who looked absolutely Korean to me, actually had a scowl on his face! Maybe the chilly corners of the De Bussy will give him a rush to last the rest of the year? 

Will he later let off some steam at the Gutter bar for USD15 a swig? And maybe curse a client or two: God knows there are enough of them standing in front of the Carlton trying to play police first thing in the morning. 

Cannes is still hallowed ground to diehard creatives as more than 12,000 of them from all corners of the descend onto the Palais this year. 

They come to see if it is still worth it, and leave guessing if they are still worthy.  

Am I talking about myself? 

So why do they truly flock to Cannes? 

Because this is where it all  makes sense. Where superior thinking outguns big data. Or any 'responsive' derivative of it. That creative ideas cannot be commoditized and sold at list price. That inspiration is what makes the world go round.  

That Alvin Teoh can eat any data analyst for breakfast and still have leftovers. Because advertising is his calling.

I am already missing Yasmin.... 

Maybe Prasoon Joshi, the Pandeys, Ted Lim, Ronald Ng, Khai Meng, the Guerreros and Kim Shaw will cheer me up soon. Punjabi-style hugs and back slaps can do a world of good!

But why am I walking the beat along the La Croissette at the same time Neil French gets to holiday in London with the luminous Eva Lopez? While his infamous jaunts along the strip opposite the Palais still mock and haunt the show across the road. 

But dear reader, there's good reason to be upbeat... 

This evening a Malaysian, who will be bestowed Cannes Lions Media Person of the Year 2015, commands the Grand Audi stage! And if you think we are not kicking ass yet, Ronald picked up a Grand Prix this morning. Ted arrives in 48 hours and his Wakudoki work for Toyota is set to be a world-beater; TIME magazine said so. My vote also goes to CK's KFC campaign. Screw the cynics, I'm rooting for my country now. 

Or another way of looking at it: rooting for Malaysians wherever in the world they are. 

I'm feeling better already...

Hey, this bus ride has been going on for 15 minutes. Are we getting to a plane or is this driver taking us to Nice too? 

14 of us from Malaysia are at the Festival this year. We have more than 400 entries. Day One actually starts tomorrow. 

Ah, I see the plane now! 

Is that Sonal in front of me? Why is he still swaying when the bus has already come to a stop?

As our plane finally hovers over the French Riviera a scary thought strikes me: Will someone make a film about Math Men?

Harmandar Singh is at Cannes Lions 2015, hitting the ground running in luminous orange Nike Super Flight 3 footskins, threatening to sneak into judging rooms, crashing the DDB party, taking naps at the screenings, arguing with the Brazilians in the Press zone, visiting Monaco (the drink) every hour, dropping names at will, and pretending he is staying at La Colombe d'Or! 

This week's Cannes Festival seamless coverage on our Website, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr is presented by Star Media Group's Audience Interest Measurement (AIM).

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