Best of the week: The real Cannes, the anti-Cannes and Facebook playing favorites

Like it or not, it’s been all Cannes all week. Chances are, if you weren’t swanning about along the Croisette or sipping seaside rosé, you didn’t care all that much. Snaps and Instagrams from your friends and colleagues may have given you a tinge of FOMO, but fear not. Our very own Shareen Pathak and Jess Davies were on the scene, reporting on what really goes down at the Lions. Spoiler: despite the protestations of those on the ground, it isn’t work.

For starters, Shareen presents us with the annual installment of what’s in and what’s out at Cannes this year. Out: Social media celebrities. In: Real celebrities! Out: Panels about gender. In: Panels about sex! Out: sex on the red carpet. In: Sex at your pad … if you’re lucky. And so on.


On thing that was decidedly in? Yachts. For a festival of “creativity,” Cannes sure has a lot of ad tech companies on hand. Their presence is most conspicuous in Cannes Harbor, which has suddenly become glutted with yachts from media sellers, mostly from ad tech companies. “Ad tech” and “yachts,” it turns out, go hand in hand like the luff of the jib goes into the foil. Lucky for you, we pulled together this guide to the swankiest ships in the sea.


Piers2Also in at Cannes: Piers Morgan. Jess, our Token Brit on the scene, cornered the outspoken U.S. editor-at-large for and got in some juicy queries. Here are three quick questions from a much longer interview:

You said yesterday that print newspapers won’t exist in the next 20 years.
They won’t. It’ll make no economic sense for newspapers to continue chopping down trees to run papers.

So will the Mail still be able to afford the biggest yacht in Cannes once print ad revenues totally disappear?
Absolutely. MailOnline generates a lot of cash now. As its number of unique users go up, when print is no longer around, so will the revenue.

What about ad blocking?
The challenge with ad blocking is once you have consumers blocking, you need to find unconventional ways of getting the messaging to them. It will become more prevalent I guess. Native advertising will help.


Maybe you’re not into Cannes. After all, it has become, in the words of our columnist Copyranter, “both a scam and a sham: extortionary fees, more fake entries (now with client collusion) and pettier block voting every year. It is more immaterial to the real ad world than ever.”

Harsh words, but he follows them up with some soothing balm: The best fake ads of the year. Twelve years ago, The U.K.’s Chip Shop Awards started out small with fake ad entries just from U.K. creatives. But it now receives ads from all over the world — including this wonderfully tasteless Lynx ad from 2011.

This year, Copyranter (né Mark Duffy) highlights his favorites of the 2016 batch, which includes this brilliant fake PSA, not brought to us by Snapchat:



Lucia “Scoop” Moses had a nifty, counterintuitive take on Tumblr this week. Remember “The Dress?” Turns out it didn’t just garner BuzzFeed 28 million views in a day, it also helped show BuzzFeed the power of Tumblr. Cates Holderness is the community team member who discovered The Dress photo while managing BuzzFeed’s Tumblr. She has since made it her full-time focus. In that time, BuzzFeed’s Tumblr following has more than doubled to top 1 million.

“Tumblr can be a very difficult brand to crack,” Holderness told us. “It seems like a very insular community. But personally, it’s my favorite platform. We talk about Tumblr as one community, but it’s really made up of hundreds of thousands of small communities. It provides access to a lot of underrepresented audiences.”


It’s officially summer. Which means the return of the agency summer Friday. Senior leisure-time reporter Tanya Dua reported this nice slice of agency culture: Turns out no two summer Fridays are created equal as the practise continues to evolve. Many executives roll their eyes at the tradition, though it is, of course, a big hit with the underlings.


Also not created equally? Publishers. Grab a seat, this bit of info might knock the hat off your head: Turns out Facebook plays favorites. A small group of high-profile publishers have the equivalent of a platform black card; they’re called on to help create and test new features and are first to launch them, giving them more time to test and learn.

“Three indisputable platform darlings are The New York Times, CNN and BuzzFeed,” writes “Shoeleather” Lucia Moses. “All are regularly tapped to launch major initiatives including, variously, Facebook Instant Articles, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages and Snapchat Discover, and reportedly were the most highly paid by Facebook to produce live video. They have audiences (all are top news properties in terms of monthly direct traffic) and have resources to spare.”

Read on for a breakdown of each publisher’s special relationship with the social network. The come back to Digiday next week for more incisive and differentiated coverage of the digital media universe.

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