In 2011, a cloud of red volcanic ash drifted over from Iceland and blotted out the sun above Cannes. All flights out of Nice were grounded. Since I had already used up my meager travel allowance, I was forced to live on espresso beans and mollusks for five days straight.
But in 2012 I returned to MIPCOM
In 2015, torrential rains swept cars down the hills of Cannes and out into the sea. My room at the Carlton was underwater so I slept for three nights in the laundry room on a wee French ironing board. I smelled of Bounce fabric softener during my only two uncancelled meetings.
But in 2016 I returned to MIPCOM
In 2020, a virus that some say originated when a fruit bat had a one-night stand with an octopus caused a global pandemic that shut down everything in Cannes except for the liquor store, the other liquor store, and the little carousel that was used to mix all the drinks.
But in 2021 – guess what – I will go back to MIPCOM
Why would I return to a city that suffers more misfortune than any book in the Old Testament?
Because on all of God’s green earth, there is simply nothing quite like the cornucopia of energy, history, and opportunity that arrives like an annual pumpkin harvest every fall at MIPCOM.
And so, in an effort to try and get the media industry’s show back on the road, I have decided to spend this Sunday afternoon in New York City writing down the top five reasons that I will absolutely be in Cannes in 2021 even if I have to fly there in a “MIPCOM OR BUST” hazmat suit.
1. Authenticity – Call me old fashioned but “Virtual Conference” is as much of an oxymoron as “Reality Show” or “European Union.” When it comes to meetings, I prefer actual humans in actual chairs whose backgrounds were not created in Photoshop. This year I attended a few virtual events, and I must say that pitching my shows using the screen share function is not unlike trying to consummate a marriage via Facetime: There is little love and less texture.
2. The Colony – When you are at MIPCOM, your mind stitches together a veritable quilt of faces, instincts, signage, small talk, press releases, and texts. Much like ants in an ant colony, human beings in Cannes are always exchanging chemicals containing essential bits of data. These transmissions happen non-stop for five days and the end result is that you become deeply and totally attuned to all that is happening in our ant colony, the media industry.
3. Serendipity – There are angels who hover above MIPCOM and guide your overfed body towards the people and the companies you need to meet, even if you didn’t know you needed to meet them. This happens while you’re walking, it happens at the breakfast buffet, it happens while you’re jogging, and it most certainly happens while you’re drinking. For the record, these angels do not fly above virtual conferences because, well, angels are analog.
4. The Belly of the Beast – Since 1985, MIPCOM has been the undisputed heavyweight champion of all the media markets. Of course, many good people never go to Cannes, but that’s like saying many good musicals never make it to Broadway. MIPCOM is the belly of the global content beast and, as they say in the LOTTO commercials, “You gotta be in it to win it.”
5. Paradise – There are just so many moments of absolute bliss that happen every year at MIPCOM: The warm morning croissant, the annual bottle of Rosé with your oldest friend, the chance to share your work with others, and appreciating the work others share with you. For a creator like myself, there is simply no better mix of life, art, commerce, and great people. And the fact that all this loveliness takes place on the Côte d’Azur, well, that’s just the cherry on top.
So, there you have it. I hope I’ve convinced some of you to consider making the trip back to Cannes this year. It would be rather unfortunate if I ended up all alone at The Grand pitching to myself. If we learned anything in 2020, it’s that we humans are social animals. We need to talk. We need to laugh. We need to work. And, therefore, we need to return to MIPCOM just as we’ve done after every other natural disaster. I know I’ll be there come hell or high water.