PARIS: The schmooze fest that is Cannes Lions 2008 has kicked off under the dark clouds of economic uncertainty. Around 12,000 agency and client employees are expected to keep smiling in the face of adversity at the week long event.

Aside from the awards and trophies handed out to the best of 28,000 entries in 10 categories, the festival plays host to numerous seminars and workshops and high profile speakers.

Among this year's glitterati are WPP Group ceo Sir Martin Sorrell who will chair the Cannes Debate seminar where Microsoft, Yahoo and Google executives will discuss how the online world changes the way the ad industry operates. 

It could be a particularly sparky forum given last week's advertising tie-up between the two online search rivals.

In addition, Publicis chairman Maurice Levy, Havas chairman Vincent Bolloré and media mogul Rupert Murdoch are also expected to publicly mull the implications of Yahoo letting Google sell search ads on its site and of the failed talks between Yahoo and Microsoft.

Also in attendance will be Procter & Gamble global marketing officer Jim Stengel and his ceo AG Lafley to accept the honor of "Advertiser of the Year".

Data sourced from and USA; additional content by WARC staff