Agencies Poach Talent in Cannes

Digiday covers the latest from marketing and media at the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. More from the series →

The overall value agencies glean from excursions to Cannes is debatable, according to most execs in the French Riviera this week, but those involved with talent acquisition and recruitment say being here is worth their time.

Cannes supposedly attracts some of the best creative talent in the world, making it the perfect place for agencies to see what’s out there, and potentially poach talent from their rivals. As a result, most agencies, regardless of their size, sent talent-focussed delegates to the festival this week, partly to scout out the best new creative minds, but also to take meetings with potential employees.

“All the agencies send the people they really think have earned it and deserve it,” explained Cindy Augustine, global chief talent officer of Draftfcb. “That makes it a good opportunity for us to see where the talent is, who’s asking the best questions, who’s doing the best work. It’s a good chance to meet people and get to know them; their style, their personalities, their attitudes.”

That “getting to know them” doesn’t just happen in seminars and talks, or casually at cocktail receptions, though. Recruiters and talent managers are here actively courting candidates, meeting them in quiet, inconspicuous venues far enough away from the action on the Croissette to help avoid being spotted and being exposed to any awkward questions.

Plenty of agency staffers here this week are more than happy to entertain such meetings, too. Despite the fact they’re basically spending a week partying on the company dime, numerous agency folks at a mix of levels have expressed frustration with their current employment situations.

As a result, perhaps agencies should be certain their employees are content where they are before sending them out to Cannes only to have them use the trip to find a better alternative.

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