France's other tournament of creativity and skill
The Irish advertising and marketing industry will be focused on Cannes this week, hoping to come home with a prestigious Lions award
With the footballing world currently fixated on France and the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, the global advertising and marketing industry is descending on Cannes this week for the annual Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, the highlight of the annual advertising and marketing calendar.
Making the trip this year will be a delegation from Ireland that possibly dwarfs the size of the FAI's representation - with 80 people flying the Irish tricolour. They will represent a who's who of the Irish creative, media, production and technology sectors.
Agencies such as Boys and Girls, Publicis Dublin, Rothco, Chemistry, Core Media, Irish International, Havas, Thinkhouse, Carat and Target McConnells will join the estimated 16,000 that are expected to flock to the picturesque Mediterranean city for the week-long festival of creativity, innovation and schmoozing.
This year more than 43,000 entries were submitted by agencies and brands the world over, including a number of Irish entrants. In all there are 24 categories - ranging from specialist streams such as Lions Entertainment, Lions Innovations and Lions Health, right through to more mainstream categories such as the Cyber Lions, Radio Lions and Print and Publishing Lions.
Winning a Cannes Lions is a big deal. Not only does it have the potential to catapult an obscure agency or creative director into the international limelight, it also cements the credentials of the big agencies while at the same time setting the creative bar high.
In addition, everyone wants to work with winners - and clients are always on the look-out for clever, inspiring and innovative agency partners that will help them tell their stories and get their messages to the masses.
While the awards are a coveted centrepiece of the festival, in recent years Cannes has expanded to include many keynote speakers from the worlds of entertainment, technology, healthcare, sports and, of course, marketing.
This year, 559 speakers will take to 19 stages for more than 169 hours of discussion and debate.
The key speakers this year include Mark Pritchard (chief brand officer with Procter & Gamble), Bruce McColl (global chief marketing officer of Mars), Keith Weed (CMO of Unilever) and Dana Anderson, the highly entertaining CMO at Mondelez.
As anyone who has been to Cannes for the week will know, it's big business for its parent company Ascential - the event management and publishing company that is owned by VC firm Apax and Guardian Media. According to the prospectus issued around the time of its partial flotation earlier this year, Ascential noted that revenues for the 2015 Cannes Lions Festival alone amounted to a chunky £41m.
So what's in it for the Irish agencies and brands that are making the annual pilgrimage this year? Apart from aspiring to join a list of previous Irish winners that includes Chemistry, Rothco and Ogilvy, Cannes also offers plenty of insights into the latest thinking and trends within the industry.
According to Geoff McGrath, director of group transformation with Core Media, Cannes is an important event to attend for lots of different reasons.
"It is essential to be there and be involved in the latest global thinking, through seeing the work, attending the talks and taking part in the discussion. It is a wonderful shop window into the power of creativity in business," he says.
"Our business is in a constant state of transformation; an essential part of strategic planning is researching what is happening in your operating environment. We want to absorb everything that the festival has to offer in order to inform our thinking as we continue to evolve our business into a full service communications organisation," he adds.
With one Cannes Lions award from last year already under its belt, the Dublin-based agency Rothco is also taking the lead sponsorship role of this year's Cannes Young Lions - which is aimed at younger advertising professionals, including a team representing Ireland. Increasingly, Cannes Young Lions is seen as a valuable hunting ground for the talent of tomorrow.
"We believe our best work is ahead of us, and our starting point has been the reinvention of whom we recruit," says Richard Carr, managing director of Rothco.
"We now work in a diverse, incredibly collaborative and ever-changing business that demands relentless curiosity. So we have cast our recruitment net wider than ever before, looking for diverse people who are collaborative, curious and ever-changing to match," says Richard Carr, managing director of Rothco.
"In sponsoring the Cannes Young Lions we seek to find great people who want to join this journey and be a part of the most exciting time in the industry. We believe our best work is ahead of us, and our starting point has been the reinvention of whom we recruit," he says.
Sunday Indo Business