Proctors’ Ollie James to head to Cannes Lions

June 15, 2018

Cannes Lions is the advertising industry’s largest festival. It’s where all the movers and shakers head during the summer for a week of boozing and lounging around on superyachts… or so it used to be.

This year Cannes has undergone a large-scale makeover introducing several key changes to streamline the event, giving it a more modern ‘business-first’ look and feel. These changes include reducing the festival to five days instead of eight and the removal of over 120 award subcategories. The cost of sending a delegate is a much easier to swallow €900 less than in previous years.

2018’s festival is looking like it’s going to be one of the biggest yet with over 16,000+ delegates set to descend on the South of France. It seems that the moves to make the week more about business and less about pleasure haven't put people off. 

Now in its 65th year, Cannes Lions is steeped in history and tradition. The festival made its debut in 1954. It wasn’t named Cannes Lions. In fact, it wasn’t even held in Cannes. Originally the festival carried single categories for film, television and cinema ads with Chlorodent toothpaste's Italian ad scooping the Grand Prix as one of 187 entries. Nowadays, there are over 4,700 companies in attendance, with over 40,000 entries and 26 awards. 

As the industry has evolved, so too has the festival. In 1987 seminars and workshops were added for the first time, three years after Cannes became the festival’s permanent home. This year you can listen to a vast variety of speakers ranging from YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to TV host Conan O’Brien.

This year, Proctor + Stevenson will be sending a representative to the festival for the first time. Business Development Director Ollie James will take to the French Riviera next week where he'll be looking to dispel the myth that huge companies need big agencies.

“There is a trend towards using more independent agencies like Proctors; big global brands don't need big global agencies anymore so it's important for Proctors to send someone to drive that message home (directly to the brand owners themselves).

“Big brands are waking up not just to the cost saving benefits of working with an independent agency but also to the subtle advantages that basically boil down to the people. Independent agencies attract a different kind of talent.

“We have people in every function who value independence, empowerment and entrepreneurship and aren't afraid of accountability. At Proctors, our staff contributions are visible and recognized; and these are our weapons in the fight against the behemoths of the 'Big Six' that beguile large brands into thinking they are the only route to market.”

This shouldn’t come as a surprise – we’ve long been supporting blue-chip clients on a global basis, exporting around 70% of our work to Europe and way beyond. Our creative is consistently award-winning, our certified Drupal capabilities have been described as ‘the best in Europe’ and our client service is more than a match for anything you’ll find in the industry. So, far from being a gamble, working with an independent agency such as ours is one of the safest and surest paths to success a major brand can take today.

Alongside the obvious potential business opportunities, Ollie is keen to take in as much as possible during his time in the South of France with his key highlight ahead of the festival being the fireside chat with the former chief executive of WPP and the new executive chair of S4 Capital, Sir Martin Sorrell.

“I've been following the Sorrell story for some time and am convinced we will see significant changes in the industry’s structure (consolidation) as a direct result.  How one man can have such a sway over an entire industry is fascinating to me so I'll be there the day before (with my tent if necessary) in order to get a front row seat!

"Sorrell’s departure from WPP has been steeped in controversy but that's just going to add to the drama, so grab some popcorn and get in the line (behind me) to hear from the horse’s mouth what we can expect the future to hold for the industry’s most famous 'ad man'."

Ollie has quite a week ahead of him with several keynotes and events already booked in his diary as he looks to return to BS5 with a project that the team here at Proctors can really sink their teeth into.

“I'm looking to forge partnerships; I’m looking to make clients' lives easier by letting Team Proctors solve their problems. However, I would settle for a global campaign snatched from the hands of one of the top six agency groups over a glass of rosé. WPP is facing turbulent times; maybe I'll poach a client from them” he jokes.

Cannes offers up a chance to mingle with some of the world’s most forward-thinking people in a controlled setting. During these sessions, atendees will be able to find out what gets their creative juices flowing and what scares them to death; as Ollie tells us, the networking potential at Cannes Lions can’t be underestimated.

“The most obvious benefit and the main reason most new business people will be in Cannes for the festival is for the fantastic networking opportunities that are afforded to us. 

“The referrals that you get through networking at Cannes are normally very high quality and sometimes deals can be taken through right through to completion during the week itself due to the accessibility of client-side decision makers and their willingness to engage.”

Alas, Proctors doesn't have any superyacht’s lingering around the French Riviera but if you'd like to meet with Ollie to chat all things creative, strategy or technology then he'll will be happy to meet with you at the Hotel Majestic, or if you're lucky enough to have a wristband, the LBB & Friends Beach.  Just get in touch on (+44)7833 225062 or message him via LinkedIn.