Of all the advice proffered to me ahead of Cannes the most common, insightful and foreboding was this: "Pace yourself". Common, insightful, foreboding yet incredibly unrealistic.
The velocity of Cannes is relentless. Waiting to enter what promises to be a great session, a glance to the left sees a line of people all waiting for that thing you opted not to go to. To the right a 6ft digital screen flagging what's coming up. Not to mention a quick peek online where hashtags, @s and 'likes' crowd-source the best sessions du jour. Plus the satellite events on beaches, by cabanas, in hotels and beyond... Consider me officially overwhelmed.
The best bet for survival? A Cannes plan. Know what you want to achieve each day and commit to that. Be it to learn, to sell, to sun, to win, just stick to it hard and fast. Professional Cannes-istas are a rare species but can be spotted a mile off, pacing the Croissette at their own rhythm, sweatily transitioning between meet ups, power ups and hook ups. Nothing knocks them off schedule.
My Monday objective was this: to seek out the most inspiring speaker on the day's programme. Starting with the high profile Adobe panel I found nothing soul stirring there. Next up the Mildenhall / Pollard duo who piqued my interest with decades of #workthatmatters. Yet real enlightenment came in the Havas Café in the form of a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire. "Sir Bob" Geldof.
Of his own admission he was "a little croaky after playing rock and roll last night", yet his thoughts, passionately conveyed for over an hour, were sincere and eloquently delivered with an Irish twang. It is impossible to ignore his highly politicised points of view but, agree or disagree, he broached big topics (economic crisis, unemployment, cultural demise, decline in morality, relationship erosion) in a relevant way, talking up the roles and responsibilities of brands and businesses when governments are losing control. In contrast to hearing Madonna shout 'at' the Chime For Change audience two weeks ago, this ageing rock star was well-read, informed and captivating. Both talked about rebellion and revolution but in utterly different ways.
Yet Bobby G still wasn't the most stand out guy I met yesterday. That vote goes to Campaign Brief's Michael Lynch. The very Aussie who nicknamed the Gutter Bar many moons ago. I feel my Cannes is complete having made his acquaintance. And his words of counsel to me when I asked him how to make it through the week? "Pace yourself, darling." Cheers to that.
Michael Lynch with W+K's Alex.