Ask Bullmore: Is it worth going to Cannes?

Ask Bullmore: Is it worth going to Cannes?

It might be bit late to pull out of Cannes now, but there's always next year.

Dear Jeremy, My chief executive and financial director are concerned over our advertising appearing next to hate speech and sensitive content on social media channels. I have already pulled our display advertising from Google, but he wants me to make a public statement on this. I think this would be unwise grandstanding, especially as we have only pulled our display ads. How should I proceed?

Those who accept your money in exchange for advertising space should thereby accept responsibility for seeing that your advertisement keeps good company.

If they fail to do so, you should go elsewhere. Is it any more difficult than that? 

Dear Jeremy, Is it worth going to Cannes? I feel all my team do out there is drink rosé and soak up the sun for a week.

A funny time to ask. A week from now, you’ll be in a far better position to answer this question than I am. But I’m pretty practised at sounding authoritative on subjects about which I know little so I’m happy to oblige.

I’ve followed the development of Cannes from a distance and I can’t say I’ve liked what I’ve imagined. Since I haven’t actually been to Cannes this century, nor for a decade or two before that, please feel free to disregard everything I say. Ignorance and envy form a poor basis for accurate, objective reporting.

Once upon a time, long forgotten, the Cannes advertising film festival came into being as a defence against that upstart medium television. Only cinema advertisements were eligible. No television commercials were accepted, nor even spoken of.

Pearl & Dean was a major sponsor and notable attendees included, in the words of one acerbic delegate, "Ernie and several other uncultured Pearls". The defence failed.

There was then a happy period when only creative people from agencies and production houses attended: no suits, no-one from management and certainly no clients.

French production companies, knowing the language and how to bag the best venues, gave the best parties. Nobody drank rosé.

Every so often, Cannes went to Venice. As a way of catching up with the world’s most interesting commercial production, and getting to know people with whom you might want to work (or most certainly wouldn’t), it was a few days pleasurably and usefully spent.

Producers and writers and directors valued it, taking the serious bits seriously but not the rest. It was particularly valued because it was exclusively theirs: outsiders were excluded.

Winning was considered good but never a matter of life or death. When clients were told their work had won, they were ambivalent. Some saw success as confirmation that their agencies were making commercials to further themselves rather than the brands, while others would wonder aloud why their work never seemed to win. Very grown-up.

When the reel of winners was shown later at the Odeon in Leicester Square, everyone could see the work. They were good times.

Now, at least from a distance, Cannes seems to have got a bit above itself. It was never meant to be a way of keeping score. It was never meant to be so big or so expensive. It’s no longer the valued preserve of creative people. But it’s a bit late now to pull out. Maybe next year?

Dear Jeremy, Are people who worry about their work/life balance simply in the wrong job?

If you’re exceptionally lucky in your career, the following will be true. You will hugely enjoy your job; it will be mentally and creatively demanding; it will be in a competitive business; you will be better at it than most; you will be part of a group that you both like and respect.

All of which quite inevitably means that you will be asked to do things after hours, at weekends, at short notice, against deadlines, when it’s not strictly on your patch – and you will always agree to do them.

So the luckier you are in your work, the greater the problem with your work/life balance. But that doesn’t mean that you undervalue your life. Nor does it mean that you’re in the wrong job.

Try deciding to switch to a nine-to-five, strictly-five-days-only, never-disturb-me-at-weekends, legally enforceable contract. The only jobs on offer will be jobs that would make you unliveable-with at home.

Jeremy Bullmore welcomes questions via or by tweeting @Campaignmag with the hashtag #AskBullmore.

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