Wish You Were Here.

I didn’t go to Cannes Lions this year.

But, in some respects, I didn’t need to.

The ‘reviews’ of the creative work that are now doing the rounds are pretty comprehensive, and easier to assess from the cool comfort of a desk than the overheated (in every sense) Palais.

As for the social scene…well, we kind of know how that pans out, don’t we?

It’s like a Eurovision for the world; an essay in national stereotypes.

There are the binary Brits – on, or off. Alive and drunk, or (socially) dead and buried, in their freezer-cold, introspective sobriety. The impassive faces, white from too little sun, give no hint of the inner, dress-etiquette turmoil – socks or not?

Then there’s the Americans, fixed grins; constantly ‘excited’. Bewildered by the scarcity of ice and uppity French service, their phones are always on (and in) hand: teats supplying sweet colostrum from the New World.

Australia is there, noisily. Simultaneously self-assured and yet chippy, they do, at least, know how to go on in the sunshine. Their fire burns bright, until in sashay the Brazilians. Scores upon scores of them, vomiting the drunk Russian that passes for Portuguese; their presence a benign, Latin plague.

But the staggering reality is that, despite all these national eccentricities, everyone is actually more united than divided.

The creatives are worried about whether they will win (and how it’s not really a creative festival anymore). The account guys ‘hosting’ their clients exhibit all the anxiety of a father on the beach with his 16 year old daughter. And the few planners who’ve made it there find their usual pomposity pricked with particular alacrity.

But more than this, every single attendee is rediscovering the exquisite angst, normally reserved for teenagers, of panicking about whether they’ll get into ‘the right party’ – and preparing the excuses if they don’t.

The grumbling creatives are right.

It’s not a festival of creativity.

It’s better than that. It’s a warped festival of lotus-eating, rosé-downing people-watching – and I can’t wait to be there next year.

Without socks.

this piece first published by The Marketing Society