Hope is the key for all at Cannes

This weekend, members of the world’s advertising and marketing community will be packing their bags for the annual Cannes festival. Looking back a year, you might have doubted that they would return.

Many delegates returned home disappointed last year, after campaigns submitted by their respective nations received meagre reward. For some, this state of mind has persisted. For example, despite a record number of entries for this year’s ADC awards in Germany, spokesman Ottmar Severin observes: “We haven’t got the talent. Now, as before, it’s the same German misery.”

Spanish morale also appears to be low, with judges at the recent Festival Publicitario de San Sebastián declining to nominate winners for 41 of the 119 available prizes.

Furthermore, the campaign awarded top honour at the festival, produced by Slogan for the charity Once, will not be sent to Cannes because agency chairman Fernando Martorell considers the subject matter too specific to Spanish culture and therefore not suited to international exposure.

Nevertheless, many members of the Spanish ad industry ­ such as those German, French and Italian delegates who left Cannes 1998 similarly disappointed ­ will pick themselves up, dust themselves down and try all over again. And though they may be among the most prominent, they are not alone or unique.

We should not disregard smaller countries, which also harbour hopes and are no less enthusiastic or committed.

For example, despite not winning a single Lion in the past 15 years, Austrian delegates will be present, driven, as that country’s Der Standard newspaper terms it, by the belief that “Das Prinzip heisst Hoffnung” (Hope is the key).

To take another example, Portugal’s ad industry enters the festival boosted by the recognition of a Portuguese duo as last year’s top Young Creatives.

The country’s sole jury representative this year, Vera Nobre da Costa of Young & Rubicam, told Diario Economico before leaving for Cannes that she hopes to bring home three Lions, “and not just bronze ones”.

To boost support during the festival, da Costa will be hosting a “Portuguese Party” funded by contributions from industry members “back home”, in addition to distributing T-shirts and special English-language editions of the magazine “Meios e Publicidade” (Media and Advertising).

We should remember that Cannes is a festival for all, whatever the level of hopes and expectations with which individual nations approach the event.

It is therefore with the same spirit of creative optimism which distinguishes our industry that we look forward to this year’s festival.

John Shannon is president of Grey International

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