The Cannes Before the Storm

IMG_0124THE DAY BEFORE THE CANNES FESTIVAL OF CREATIVITY BEGINS IN EARNEST is a ballet of well-managed chaos. Some venues are still being built and painted, agencies furiously slap up posters promoting their events, and the infamous Gutter Bar — the perennial Cannes watering hole — still has empty seats.

But unlike other conferences (and I’ve been to a few), there is a feeling and comraderie here in the south of France that you don’t get from South by Southwest. This is, after all, ground zero for creativity, so it stands to reason that the energy would be atomic.

Today, however, was more about prologue. There was Jon Steinberg from Cheddar TV discussing camera angles for their live broadcasts. There was a beachfront stage with vacant chairs waiting for guest speakers to wax some marketing poetry.

Tentative handshakes and small talk in the Cannes Beach cabana turned into laughter and lasting friendships by the second glass of wine. Bikinis and Speedos shared the scene with blazers and chinos. And yes, there were also bomb detection dogs and security screenings — because as much as we’d like to believe otherwise, this is still the world as it is.

But this week is also about optimism. It’s about work that matters because everyone’s work, whatever that is, matters. And in those far too fleeting moments when our cynicism momentarily disappears, we believe that events like Cannes can bring an awakening of our better selves — that our business, which will always be a business, can nevertheless change the world to be what we all hope and need it be,

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