Have you ever been to Cannes? Not on a cycling holiday, but the festival? No, not the movie festival - the creativity festival, The Lions? Ever been to that? Me neither - but I do find myself reading about it every year; largely because the industry swoops on it like an owl on a mouse. And so it is right now. This is Cannes Lions creativity week and, true to form, I'm here in the UK.
However, thanks to all manner of funky internet technology, even a humble copywriter can enjoy a window on the event. So, plugged in and logged on, I thought I'd bring you a flavour of the festival being celebrated while we're at home actually doing the creative stuff.
Today at Cannes, is China day. I don't think they dedicate a day to every country in the world - in fact, I'm sure they don't because that would take about four months. So, I'm going to assume they've given China its own day because, they have all the money. If you've ever wondered how creative communications work in a hardline communist state which bars its citizens from unfettered internet access, today's the day for you.
Elsewhere there are seminars and workshops aplenty. Legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz and the lady who runs Disney World, join Gordon from McGarry Bowen to discuss the use of imagery in brand building. Specifically, this is a lecture on the creation of the 'Disney Dream Portraits Series' - a project whereby celebrities like Scarlett Johansson, David Beckham, Johnny Depp and Russell Brand are morphed into Disney fairytale characters. This will be interesting because Becks in his bulging pants and Brand's rampant libido don't immediately strike me as natural Disney role-models.
Meanwhile, Google's 'Captain Of Moonshots' - Astro Teller - is giving a talk on ... er ... 'Moonshots'. Hang on. Let's back up a bit. Yes, Google really employ a person called 'Astro' with the job title 'Captain Of Moonshots'. That's the crazy world of search engines for you. Don't look for similar roles at your local job centre, you'll be disappointed.
'Moonshots' we're told, are 'seemingly impossible and yet impossibly important ideas that through science, technology and creativity can be brought to reality.' Great! The company assure us this is all about stuff like 'Google Glass' and self-driving cars (ideas, which are not at all daft), rather than complex methods of avoiding UK tax. Presumably that's taken care of by their 'Captain of Financial Shenanigans'.
Later today, delegates can catch designer Jane McGonigal and PHD's Mark Holden, explaining how computer games could make the world a happier place. Although when I drilled into the detail, it appears they are talking about companies rather than, y'know, the actual world. This is all a bit beyond me as computer games don't really appeal; but the theory seems to involve introducing an element of gaming to the structure of a large corporation. Quite how this helps, I suppose you'd need to attend the lecture to discover, but if your new colleague is an Italian plumber or you spot a giant blue hedgehog in a meeting, you'll know what's happening.
Strolling around the Cannes Lions website, it's absolutely clear this is a massive festival. From Vivienne Westwood to Jack Black, the quality of attendees and speakers is undeniably high and the line-up of activities would put Glastonbury to shame. It's all very impressive. I just can't help wondering, (and I may just be suffering from 'grumpy old creative' syndrome here), what it is all for. Doubtless the opportunity for networking is immense - and with the industry striving to weather the global monetary storm, this is a function that shouldn't be underestimated. And, of course, any agency winning a Lion can relish the benefits that kudos brings. Nevertheless, the organisers have stated their intent is to promote creative bravery - and, to my mind, advertising has rarely been more conservative. So does that courage start in client meetings and creative studios, or at international awards festivals?
For those attending, I'm sure this is a stupendous bash and I'm happy for them. But as long as a search for the keyword 'copywriter' on the Cannes Lions site produces no results, I don't think I'll be crossing the channel any time soon.
Magnus Shaw is a copywriter, blogger and consultant