Interview: David Lubars on Cannes

By Matt Van Hoven 

David Lubars, chairman and CCO of BBDO North America, is also president of the Cannes Film and Press juries. We interviewed him recently about the value of Cannes, political judging, what it takes to win and the economy. Adweek published their interview today but I swear, we asked him these questions weeks ago. He just now got back to us.

AgencySpy: Last year was full of public dust-ups regarding Cannes. Everyone knows that ghost ads are still in play at the festival. Considering all this, is Cannes still important when it seems many people have lost faith in the process?

People will be watching closely to see how well we police bogus ads, no doubt. Most everyone has heard about what happened in Dubai a few months ago and, unfortunately, it seems to have confirmed and amplified people’s worst frustrations about fakery.

The thing to remember is, people are people. A small segment of any group of people is going to misbehave, that’s our species. But rest assured, we will do everything we can to keep Cannes clean.

Regarding whether Cannes is still important: This past year, clients all over the world had to cut back and accomplish more with less. Logic follows that everything they created had to pop that much more. In this light, Cannes can be seen as a primer on how to take the power of creativity out for a ride, press the pedal down, and see what it can do on a bumpy economic road. So, yes, I do think Cannes is important.

AgencySpy: How do you avoid politics on the jury? How will you be sure that everyone is voting for the best work rather than their friend’s work?

Again, people are people, so there’s bound to be some kind of whatever that’ll pop up. But what I will maintain is an insistence that the group focus on nothing but our singular goal: to recognize the most amazing, pure, beautiful, killer, outrageous, moving, gripping, funny, incredible work.

AgencySpy: What are qualities you are going to be looking for in the big winner?

I could say something about looking for a universal human truth or whatever, but when you reduce it down to its essence, I want the sickening feeling of envy and hate one gets because you didn’t think of it yourself.

AgencySpy: The economy is in a state. Do you think that there will be less people entering the awards this year and therefore, will that erode the quality level?

We already know there will be fewer entries this year but the quality of the show won’t suffer at all. The truth is, people will enter the same number of brilliant things they always have. But you’ll see less borderline stuff and, frankly, less of the volumes of weak material people usually enter. In other words, there are something like 20,000 total entries but only 200 things get recognized &#151 and those 200 things will still be entered in Cannes.

AgencySpy: Now for some fun: What advice do you have for first time attendees and entrants into the Cannes Festival?

New attendees will be surprised to find that the Croissette is sort of seedy, like a Euro/beach version of Las Vegas. First time I was there, I saw a guy painting what I thought was the beautiful sunset but when I went over to look it was Tupac sitting on a tiger.

After studying and learning about all the great work being exhibited, I suggest hiring a car for an afternoon and checking out what makes the rest of the south of France so incredible.

Thanks David.


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