Why no Arabic representatives at Cannes?

March 9, 2009

peter-bidenko1Congratulations are due to Peter Bidenko, the former creative director of Tequila Sydney, who will be jetting off to southern France this summer to be a jury member at the Cannes Lions festival.

The expat Aussie, who currently enjoys two jobs for the price of one as executive creative director of Impact Proximity and creative director of Impact BBDO in Dubai, will be representing the UAE in the direct category.

UAE representatives – or Middle East representatives for that matter – are a rarity on Cannes Lions juries. If my memory serves me correctly, only two from the region have previously been jurors – Kerry Platts, the executive creative director of Wunderman Dubai, in 2007; and Ed Jones, the former regional creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, in 2008.

So far, then, we’ve had two Brits and one Australian representing the Middle East’s creative community at Cannes. Yet, if you cast your mind back to last year’s Dubai Lynx, all but one of the grand prix winners were from outside the UAE – from Beirut, Cairo and Doha – while the agency of the year, JWT Dubai, is dominated by Lebanese expats such as executive creative director, Chafic Haddad.

Is it daft to ask, therefore, where are the Arabic speaking representatives of the Arab world at Cannes?