Exclusive View: Wheeling and Dealing At The Cannes Lions Festival

Chief Executive Officer Of Yahoo! Inc. Marissa Mayer Joins Key Speakers At Cannes Lions International Festival Of Creativity
Getty ImagesLuxury yachts at port during the Cannes Lions Festival.
CANNES, France – In the states, business development unfolds over 18 holes and rolling greens. But at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, wheeling and dealing takes the form of long lunches, late dinners, glasses of rose on the Carlton Terrace and raucous parties that roll into the early morning.

Media companies, consumer product brands, ad agencies, tech firms and even other hot conference destinations like South by Southwest are vying for a piece of the action where millions of dollars in new business are at stake. But there's an entry fee to access the possibilities.

Hotel costs top $300 per night, airfare from the U.S. starts at about $2,000 and exhibit registration fees run $2,500. That's just the start. If you're an agency that's entered into the competition, a minimum $1,000 entry fee accompanies each submission. With 37,000 entries, the show organizers are looking at $37 million alone in entry fees.

But for those who make the trip, the investment is worth the time and money.

"You're here to meet new people and the opportunities are far greater than the deficit," Dana Anderson, Mondelez senior vice president marketing strategy and communications, told AOL Jobs.

But when you're responsible for big budgets, the show can also be overwhelming.

After her first trip here a few years ago she and her team returned but stayed clear of the popular hotels where folks were ruthless in business pursuits. "You get wise to it. We moved out of the circle."

But others thrust themselves right into it.

High-end sunglass brand Kirk Originals is showcasing its newly re-launched brand using a 1970 chrome-plated Rolls Royce, Silver Shadow that sits right outside the heart of the show, Palais de Festivals. From the open trunk, $300 glasses are stacked and displayed neatly as if they're being sold. "This is our target market," said CEO Michael Marshall-Clarke.

For creative recruiter Sasha Martens, a week in Cannes pays for itself with new client leads and job placements. Martens, with offices in New York and Brazil, has attended the show since 2008. He said it's an efficient way to build business, meet people and close deals. "For someone who does a lot of global work, it's neutral territory and people are really open," he said. "In one spot, you get to see what the global marketplace has to offer."

Richmond, VA-based The Martin Agency is here with 10 people as it tries to spread the word about its first global office in the company's 49 years and make sure people don't get too close to its Oreo client. "What's understood about Cannes is that it's a very client-friendly festival," said Joe Alexander, chief creative officer.

Wunderman spokesman Andrew Sexton is more direct. "The wheeling and dealings in and around the Palais are often more important than what's going on at the Palais. It's great to hear Courtney Love but it's not essential. Being able to connect with a client and what it's going to do for your business is what this show is all about."

> Also at Cannes: The Ad World's Generation Gap Widens

Click through the slideshow for Theresa Howard's view of the goings-on at Cannes

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62nd Annual Cannes Lions Festival
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Exclusive View: Wheeling and Dealing At The Cannes Lions Festival
The Google Beach at the 62nd Annual Cannes Lions Festival

Young Lions: James LaPonte (27), Robyn Tenenbaum (24), and Shelby Rodeffer (25) of DigitasLBi.

Posters throughout the show try to boost attendance for speakers.

Drew Ungvarsky, owner and creator of Grow Interactive.

Sasha Martens (front) has made the trip to Cannes since 2008.

The Ritz-Carlton terrace.

The Cannes Lions kickoff party on Tuesday night.

Wheeling and dealing: the terrace where people angle for a glass of rose and a chance to mingle with business prospects.

Michael Marshall-Clarke shows off a pair of Kirk Originals

Leslie Sims, EVP/ECD at McCann NY.

Dana Anderson, senior vice president, marketing strategy and communication, Mondelez

Showgoers compete in the awards and on the sand in beach soccer tournament.

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