Cannes Lions: The Calm Before the Tempest

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Just wanted to do a quick update before Cannes consumes me and I lose my will to blog while sober.

Arrived yesterday: five-hour train ride from Gare de Lyon to the Cannes station, which appears to be dead-center of nowhere. You can immediately tell who came from the city because we're all still in coats, looking grimy and sordid.

First thing you learn about Cannes in June: can't wear anything here but cotton, linen and flip-flops. Anything else will be soaked in unsavoury bodily oils after the first half-hour; forget about jewelry, and makeup is damn near out of the question.

Not that that's stopping anyone from putting their most garish feet forward. I guess it's apt that a city so humid is the playplace of so many frosted housewives. Over sunburns, uncomfortably tight tanktops and platinum blonde coifs, the telltale glint of diamonds, Swarovski crystals (on FLIP FLOPS?!) and gold is willfully conspicuous.

Checked in at my hotel, about a kilometer from the convention center, then walked down to the Palais des Festivals to get my press pass. It's situated right off La Croisette, the prettiest place in the world to have to travel for work. Potshots of the view:

The Palais was eerily devoid of people -- the way I like a conference hall -- but zealously outfitted in the gold and royal purple that defines the Cannes Lions theme. Check out the staircase skin:

Flanking the staircase on either side are two ultra-contemporary Coca-Cola vending machines. People are drawn to these things like moths to flame, and I soon realize why: they're touch-screen, for a start, and get this: all they do is give free samples of either Coke, Coke Zero or Diet Coke.

It's amazing to me that every time someone stumbles uncertainly through the ridiculously simple steps 1, 2 and 3, a new bottle appears, like magic. You actually wonder if there's a Happiness Factory inside, producing product in real-time. And right before dispensing your ice-cold sample, a little tune plays.

It's the most enchanting pair of vending machines in the entire universe, spiking indiscriminate wonder among far-flung attendees.

Coke-sponsored Happiness in action:

They're working in full force today too. I haven't seen them run out even once so far, which will significantly damage their mystique, but it's still early in the week.

There wasn't much more to do last night, so I had drinks at La Scala and dinner at Pavillon Croisette then turned in for the night, buoyed to sleep by a marathon of Bones dubbed in French, my hotel room floor littered with ad festival swag.

Spending most of today in the biggest press lounge I've ever seen, working under a current of many different languages. Cannes Lions is tight about wifi: this is the only room where you can get any for free, and a meaty guard stands watch at the door to check press passes, which come equipped with photos so we can't hanky-panky around and pass them to friends.

Probably gonna be next to impossible to liveTweet sessions -- not to say this anal-retentiveness takes away from any of the territory's kitschy romance. After checking my pass and letting me by, the guard sauntered off and started humming La Vie en Rose. It was one of those "living-a-charming-cliche" moments.

by Angela Natividad    Jun-21-09   Click to Comment   
Topic: Agencies, Events, Industry Events, Opinion   

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