There's pricey and pricier.

France's Côte d'Azur is famed for the former. And the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival is even better known for the latter.

But even given the eyewatering prices charged ($3,800 per single delegate; $1,000 for each TV commercial entered), few attendees at adland's annual soirée in the sun realised that the event notches a profit margin of which even the tightest-run advertising agency can only dream!

The extent of that margin came to light only after the event's founder and organizer Roger Hatchuel sold his platinum property to British media group Emap for £52.5 million [WAMN: 10-Aug-04].

"Yes, it is very profitable," Emap director Mike Jones admitted to a UK trade journal. It seems that this year's Lions generated revenues of $22 million (€17.84m; £11.96m) on which the profit margin was nearly 60% -- $12.8m in folding money.

But, Jones added hastily, "there are lots of ways the festival can give back to the industry." He omitted to say whether that might be by way of lower prices.

Some ad industry eyebrows hit the hairline on hearing the news. Confessed Frank Palmer, chairman/ceo at DDB Canada: "I was absolutely shocked. We all know it's very expensive to enter, but I had no idea the profits were so obscene. We won [Lions], but at what cost?"

But French pragmatism prevailed at Publicis Worldwide. The Lions profit margin was "the worst-kept secret," according to the agency's worldwide chief creative officer David Droga. "Everyone knew [Hatchuel] made a fortune, if you do the numbers in your head."

Meantime, serenely indifferent to the melange of admiration and envy, seventy-one year old Hatchuel whiles away his retirement by sipping Krug and admiring the latest artwork to adorn his wall -- a framed copy of the Hatchuel bank statement.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff