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Come have a smoothie while we ruin your business

At this year’s annual advertising festival in Cannes, even the children’s merry-go-round is feeling the competition from the leading tech companies.

The waterfront along the Plage de la Croisette, the stretch of golden beach made famous by decades of cinematic glamour, used to be dominated by the once all-powerful media agencies, such as WPP and Publicis.

Yet in a sign of the industry’s shifting sands, a host of Silicon Valley names have been ruling the roost during the Cannes Lions festival. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Pinterest set up hipster beach clubs where executives, journalists and marketers could talk business or just sip lattes while watching beach volleyball.

“In 2010 you wouldn’t have seen Google and Facebook along the beachfront here,” says Duncan Painter, chief executive of Ascential, which runs the festival. “That used to all be the big agencies.” Or as one UK TV executive complains: “Cannes is now just a technology show. The vibe is now, ‘come have a smoothie while we ruin your business’.”

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