Another Shit Cannes

Care to see how the blog format can liberate a journalist from his expected approach to a story? Garfield: The Blog provides such an opportunity.

It doesn’t matter that a beer costs $12 when the Crain family is paying the tab. The little woman is getting a very nearly free vacation and the beach is filled with some of the most beautiful women that money can build. All in all, another week on the French Riviera should be junketalicious.
We’d rather staple our tongue to the doorjamb.
Cannes, as you are probably by now sick of hearing, represents almost everything we despise about advertising “creativity,” because no matter how much the jury presidents protest every year, what gets screened — and too often honored — here is spectacle, novelty and entertainment value.
As opposed to genuine advertising ingenuity: the crafting of a solution for getting a selling message from an advertiser to a prospect for the purpose of selling shit to folks.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. Whatever. Garfield has always been on my personal list of “Everything We Despise About Advertising.” He moans about Cannes, yet it’s not so repugnant that he’s unwilling to fly out and hang in a fancy hotel on his publisher’s dime. Gee, I can’t imagine holding the event without Bob.

  2. I love his line about stapling his tongue to a doorjamb–it’s a great journalistic device–but I’d personally much rather bask in the sun and sip cocktails. Maybe by 2007, I can find someone to help sport the bill.

  3. theo kie says:

    Seems a dozen or so from my shop are out there. Last week’s Cannes conversations were almost entirely centered on (a) when to start drinking, (b) what to drink in what order to avoid getting drunk too early, (c) where to drink at certain times of the day, and (d) how to score invitations to the “best parties” where the drinks are free.
    Somewhere in between, I suppose, is time to look at advertising – if you’re vision isn’t too blurry.
    What a huge waste of time and money.

  4. Why do American ad folks get so upset about their colleagues partying in Cannes? Must be the puritan strain. or jealousy. what’s wrong with having a good time and meeting new people? so what if it’s expensive. it’s on the company.
    Yeah, advertising is about selling stuff. No shit Bob. Have a bottle of Ott rose for me.

  5. veedumb says:

    Choose one:
    1. veedub’s been to cannes. once.
    2. veedub aspires to go again.
    3. veedub keeps his nose so far up his big -agency superiors’ ass in order to maybe go to cannes next year he doesn’t realize that “meeting new people” and “having a good time” are not the issues any of these “American ad folks” are annoyed by.

  6. anonymous “veedumb”, you don’t know me at all, do you? good thing you didn’t say those things about me to my face in a bar (the gutter bar in cannes perhaps). i’d smack you. and rightly so.
    but perhaps you’d care to enlighten me. what are these “issues” that so perturb americans about cannes?

  7. all right, ladies, break it up.
    actually, veedub, i do wonder how you made the leap about anti-cannes sentiments among americans based on this post. i only stated that i hated garfield (an international phenomenon, i wish). david wished he could find a sponsor to send him to cannes. only one person went on an anti-cannes rant. i’m under the impression that cannes is among the top awards ceremonies in the industry.

  8. veedubisvwgetit says:

    Yes, on behalf of all Americans, I apolopgize, veedub.
    You are obviously rational, worldly and most definitely not Vinny Warren.

  9. Carl LaFong says:

    Why is everybody hatin’ on Garfield?
    Granted, “Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties” isn’t exactly “Citizen Kane.”
    But he sure beats the hell out of Marmaduke.

  10. highjive,
    it’s something i’ve noticed. pretty much every other country seems to have the attitude that, yes cannes is a boondoggle but so what, let’s have a drink. whereas here in the US there seems to be much more handwringing and angst over it. i wasn’t responding to the comments particularly. more garfield’s post– yet another example of this annual self-flagellation. what’s inherently wrong with spectacle, novelty and entertainment value?
    PS: anonymous hater – how sad.

  11. veedub,
    The handwringing and angst is probably rooted in the growing disdain for awards shows. Whereas most shows last a single evening, this one extends over a longer time, magnifying the silliness of it all. And in an industry that continues to struggle with downsizing and the never-ending quest for legitimate billable activities, this Caligula-like affair seems to symbolize the excessive and exclusive behavior of the old guard.
    Or maybe it’s because Americans just really hate the French.

  12. theo kie says:

    Here’s an honest airing of why I dislike award shows, Cannes in particular.
    1. First, to clear a couple things up…it has nothing to do with jealousy. I’ve been invited several times (because my work was in contention) and have turned down each invitation. This also has nothing to do with puritanism. I can “drink with the best of ’em”. That settled….
    2. Cannes (and award shows) feeds egos that don’t need feeding. We sell products. That’s it. Nothing to be ashamed of, and we do so with as much artistry as we can, which is to be applauded. But this kind of drawn out self-congratulation is akin to the world’s cabinet makers gathering on the French Riveria to slap each other’s backs for a week. Honestly, does advertising deserve the same pomp as the world-wide film industry? Only people in this business would say, “Yes”.
    3. Networking? Perhaps you’ll meet someone who might remember you amongst all the other faces and, if your book and the timing and the stars align right, you could get a call. But Cannes is far more about giggling to co-workers about how you almost vomited on (this year’s famous director here)’s shoes. I listen to people come back year after year, and all they do is name-drop. Like the groupie exclaiming who they “met” last night, it’s about that meaningful.
    4. Too many award winners cheat. At Cannes, One Show, D&AD, etc. I heard from a reliable source that an Obie judge gave a trophy to their own entry, knowing it never ran. And let’s not even touch on originality. “Cog”? “Whassup?” I believe both have admitted their muses resided in other people’s work. Is it any wonder clients and the public don’t trust us?
    5. These “fests” devour funds better invested elsewhere. I read agencies spent $37 million on award shows last year. Thirty. Seven. Million. Dollars. I don’t believe that included travel. Our shop will spend between $100,000 and $150,000 so people can spend a week, essentially, partying. Meanwhile, you can’t find an X-acto knife or box of pens in the place, raises are rare and staffing is overly tight.
    No handwringing.
    No angst.
    No hatred of the French.
    No ranting.
    Mine is a simple disdain at the indefensible foolishness of it all.
    Perhaps this industry will someday grow up. Growing up doesn’t mean you can’t be creative. It simply means you have to sell yourself based on ideas and intelligence, rather shiny hardware. Plenty of mediocre creatives and failed campaigns (i.e. “didn’t sell squat”) win awards year after year.

  13. Here’s an honest airing of why I dislike ad columnists, Bob Garfield in particular…
    1. First, to clear a couple of things up…it has nothing to do with jealousy. Quite the contrary. Bob probably wishes he could be more like me.
    2. Garfield (and ad columnists) feed egos that don’t need feeding — namely, their own egos. Except for a few like Chicago’s Lewis Lazare, who has been known to feed the egos of certain creatives who allegedly feed him lunch at fancy eateries.
    3. Promotion? Perhaps having your work critiqued by Garfield will get attention for you and your agency. But does anyone really give a shit about Bob’s opinions? Besides Bob? It’s like getting a four-star movie review from Larry King.
    4. Too many ad critics who have never produced an ad themselves. Garfield, Lippert, Lazare — what makes their opinions any more valid or interesting than the mailroom clerk’s? No offense to the mailroom clerk.
    5. These columnists devour editorial space that could be better filled with photos of people frolicking at Cannes.
    No handwringing.
    No angst.
    No hatred of the French.
    No ranting.
    Mine is a simple disdain for the indefensible fools.