It used to be just us.

Well... us and the production companies - who organised all the fabulous parties, and paid for our drinks.

But this year, several agencies I know sent more Account Management types than they did Creatives. Is that wrong? Probably.

There were many Planners too; even the Head of Planning at London's Karmarama was there - an agency which has a policy of never entering creative awards. (He just wanted to see what Cannes was like).

And there were many hundreds of clients... one of whom dissed me.

It wasn't a major diss, it was just I could tell he wasn't that interested in talking to me. He has his global I.T. brand to look after, was there with his team, and had little to gain from talking to some random creative director.

But at Cannes I'd always felt I was among my people. Whoever you ran into, you'd have common ground with, and most likely have a good chat with. Does it mean we need to have our guard up at Cannes now?

Would it be better if Cannes went back to being just for creatives?

Actually, no. Thinking it through, I realised that clients suddenly descending on Cannes is about the best thing that could have happened to our industry.

For example, I read an article in one of the international trade magazines which described some of this year's winning work as "client-funded scam". Interesting phrase.

In another piece, an international marketing director talked about giving his agency a special, 'shackles-off' brief, with the aim of winning at Cannes. A European ECD told me that one of his clients had paid the agency $100,000 to make a campaign that both sides knew would not run widely, but was intended to win at Cannes.

Now, I don't want to get side-tracked by the scam debate here. If a client requests an ad campaign, pays for it, and runs it... then that work is legitimate. Even if it is not answering a real business problem. You can think of it more like experimentation. After all, car companies put millions into making prototypes for the motor shows. And these are not just a form of PR, the manufacturers glean important information from the exercise.

We've always argued that clients should be bolder, and invest (at least some) money in highly creative ideas. Now they're doing it. Great work is being made as a result. 

Part of this may be because the business case for creativity has solid evidence behind it nowadays. But I believe most of it is because clients have discovered Cannes, and like everyone who attends, they realise the rosé tastes better when you've won.

And if the occasional diss on the Carlton Terrace is the price I have to pay for clients investing in great creative work, it's surely worth it.

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