Cannes Lions is over for another year, but as the rosé turns sticky on the floor of the Gutter Bar and you think of ways to explain the ROI on entertaining clients with €30 burrata every night to your finance manager, there’s one thing that’s sure to follow you home on that Jet2 flight – all the gossip.
What happens in Cannes famously doesn’t stay in Cannes. The Drum’s moles were on the ground, and our very own pub – The Drum Arms – which gave us plenty of access to the scandals happening behind the scenes.
Find out what went on away from the buzz of the Palais from noise complaints to entitled celebrities, The Drum's drummers causing chaos on the strip and the magnetic pull of Sir John Hegarty… ooh la la indeed.
A French air traffic control strike the weekend before Cannes led to topsy-turvy, rerouted trips across Europe for hundreds of delegates on route to the Riviera; we heard of attendees flying via Cologne, Milan and even Luxembourg to make sure they didn’t miss that 9am breakfast meeting.
But which programmatic supremo was spotted making the most of his delayed flight in the airport bar? His penchant for Gatwick’s champagne led to an impulsive – and most likely expensive – Lacoste shopping spree.
Don’t call it a comeback
He may have lost the ‘most powerful man in advertising’ crown but yet again Sir Martin Sorrell managed to become the biggest story of the week. There were plenty of whispers about whether he'd show up to Cannes following the events of recent months - but oddly, we’ve rarely seen him look so relaxed. Some attendees even asked The Drum what we were really planning on doing, assuming the interview at the pub was really a publicity stunt (as if we would ever...!)
But from the moment he arrived at The Drum Arms for his first post-WPP interview (through the back door, naturally) it was clear that the outspoken bean counter was back with a vengeance.
After laying into the big six networks, the Financial Times’ reporting and WPP’s handling of his resignation, he slipped out faster than you can say ‘Q&A’.
— The Drum (@TheDrum) June 21, 2018
Do ad execs shit in the woods?
Which glamorous party had a distinct lack of toilets for the 500+ people it invited to its celeb-filled celebration? One desperate marketer charmingly told The Drum staff he was going to do a Bear Grylls and “poo in the woods”.
It’s not clear if he was joking or not but he did wander off into the night, which begs the question: if a client does a number two in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Diva on the docks
This East End pop star embraced her inner Mariah Carey this week. When arriving at the port for a night on the yachts she refused to leave her bejewelled high heels on the jetty, forcing staff to choose between a great PR opportunity and their boat hire deposit.
Later, when the same London diva was refused entry to an over-capacity agency party she loudly declared the shop’s comms director was a “jobsworth” in front of their colleagues. It must have been a damned good party! Brits abroad, eh?
A sticky situation
The Carlton’s unfathomable pricing strategy leaves many a suit feeling extorted when the bill arrives. But which creative director was stung big time by Cannes’ hustling drug dealers?
After requesting a wrap of unidentified white powder and paying out €200, his teenage vendor scarpered into the night. Only later did he realise he was actually the proud owner of a rolled-up wrap of sticky tape.
Cooking doesn’t get tougher than this
This year’s News UK party, once again hosted a atop a giant hill at the Château de Garibondy was an absolute hive of gossip. With a set from Kylie, Idris Elba and Fatboy Slim on the decks and a pool stocked with pink flamingos, the glitz and glamour was unrivaled elsewhere.
Aussie chef John Torode was even spotted cooking up a storm at the BBQ, but The Drum’s roving reporters couldn’t help but notice he looked grumpier than a unsuccessful Masterchef contestant.
To be fair, it’s probably not much fun grilling brisket in the blistering heat while drunken ad execs guzzle elderflower gin and tonics around you. It looked like he cheered up a bit later though, when he and his wife Lisa Faulkner got a snap with the Spinning Around singer.
The crowd went absolutely wild for Kylie, with one chief marketing officer dancing non-stop for the whole session and another top creative giving it his all during Can't Get You Out of My Head.
Praise you like I should
Fatboy Slim, meanwhile, wins the Gold Lion for nicest celebrity of the festival. We heard he spent an hour before his set hanging out with fans and taking pictures. Eat, sleep, network, repeat, right?
It's a shame then, that the plug was literally pulled on Fatboy Slim's set. Organisers were believed to have been sticking to strict timings to avoid catching the attention of the French police; a plan which ultimately failed.
Hearsay on the ground said this was due to noise complaints, but as more officers showed up just as the party was ending, rumours swirled that it was because a rowdy group of underage teenagers wanted to rave to Fatboy.
The police presence then stopped planned pick-up cars from driving up to collect worse-for-wear guests from the château. This resulted in dozens of high-heeled delegates winding their way down a steep, tree-lined hill in the pitch black to hitch a ride back to their hotels – lions, and tigers and swears, oh my!
In case you were wondering, Sir John Hegarty has still got it. After he spoke at a press conference, the scenes of female fans flocking for some facetime with the BBH founder were akin to Channing Tatum’s media lounge appearance in 2016. One journalist even invited him to spend a holiday with her in Colombia – whenever, wherever!
Which restaurant along Le Croisette doesn’t believe in ‘going dutch’ – or, indeed #TimesUp? During one dinner, we were told waiting staff handed out gender-specific menus where the women don’t see the prices.
Staff from one media firm were shocked to discover this when they noticed that only the sole male of the group could see the cost on the menu he was handed. Lucky fella.
No cameras please
This US star came to the speaker's corner of the press lounge to talk business, but was left frustrated after the reporting media failed to ask any her questions at all about the announcement she made.
She rolled her eyes when a bunch of journalists instead swarmed around her for videos and selfies once she was done.
On the ball
Speaking of celebs, did we mention that we interviewed former England manager Sam Allardyce?
In conversation before the England v Tunisia game at the TalkSport bar, he predicted the right score and told us over a Guinness that he doesn’t think Stevie G, Frank Lampard or Joey Barton will still be in a job come next summer.
Here he is with The Drum's video producer Jamie McMurray and editor Stephen Lepitak.
Jambon ou fromage?
A journalist’s diet at Cannes usually consists of aspirin, coffee and rosé, accompanied by agency dinners if you're lucky or McDonald’s if you're not. But this year it all changed with the introduction of the press room buffet – a revelation that appeared around 3pm every day.
On the Monday there was cheese and bread. On the Tuesday there was ham and bread. Rumours spread that the much-anticipated French coupling of cheese AND ham would arrive on the Wednesday. But alas – never the two did meet.
Band on the run
We were so enamored with The Drum’s new branding that we flew a band of drummers from London to France for the week. Their job was to disrupt the industry – literally – with the harmonious sounds of banging and hollering. Unfortunately, not everyone was a fan.
The police and event security asked the troop to “allons-y!” on several occasions, and Campaign sent them packing from outside their 50th birthday celebrations.
The biggest reaction came when the band surprised our friends at Ad Age – and were subsequently manhandled out of the area.
The Drum's editor-in-chief and founder Gordon Young even got involved in the action earlier on in the week. Here he is leading the merry band in front of a refined audience at the Gutter Bar.
All stood up
Which social figure left The Drum reporters waiting 90 minutes for an interview? After an hour and a half of waiting (with only frantic texts from her PR to give us hope) we gave up – only to land an interview with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka Game of Thrones' Jaime Lannister, a few boats down. Both his hands were fully operational.
Which well-known industry PR was said to have his laptop at the Lad Bible villa, only to realise it was missing on is way to the airport. His cab had to turn around so he could return to collect the computer.
It's not clear whether he left it during the social publisher's party on the Tuesday night, which looked a bit like a session at the Love Island villa.
There's no doubt the Lad Bible crew were partying hard the rest of the week, since the group's 'Trash Isles' campaign scooped a number of Lions.
The Marketing Society's well-intentioned 'brave'-themed lunch proved a bit too bold for some attendees, with one unadventurous guest suggesting that even Heston Blumenthal might have snubbed some of the concoctions on offer.
Can't fight the moonlight
One Australian agency got a bit excitable in the car on its way to one of the many events. As the poor driver weaved his way through the rolling Riviera hills, too much pre-8pm rosé (we heard them say they paid €350 for a bottle) had gone to the execs' heads.
Unprompted, one of the group put LeAnn Rimes' 90s classic Can't Fight the Moonlight on full blast in the backseat, loudly singing along and trying to get our reporters to dance. We preferred the original.
You can follow all The Drum's Cannes Lions coverage here, with more exclusives and one-on-one interviews to follow next week.