Cannes takes action after block voting controversy

By By David Blight | 30 November 2012

The organisers of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity have been working closely with senior media agency leaders around the globe to establish a “best way forward” for the scandal-laden Media Lions, after AdNews uncovered allegations of block voting at this year’s festival.

The Media category at the Cannes Lions in June was embroiled in controversy following claims that some jurors had been voting in blocks to benefit their own networks. But when the allegations were taken to Festival chairman Terry Savage at the time, he said no action would be taken “in the heat of Cannes”.

Five months on, Savage has said the organisers have entered into discussions with “very senior” media agency bosses in order to improve the judging process.

“In the interest of ensuring that we have the best possible way forward, Cannes Lions and a group of very senior media agency leaders have been working together to establish the best way forward in terms of the Media Lions judging process and criteria,” he said.

However, despite these discussions, Savage was reluctant to admit that any block voting had in fact occurred in June. “The fact of the matter is that up to discussion stage there was nothing irregular in the voting patterns that would cause us concern, and we can measure every vote.

“Clearly in the jury room discussion there were some parties who were not happy. This is on the record and I do not intend to revisit it.”

Savage said that any changes to the Media jury and judging process would be revealed in due course.

During the festival, Mindshare worldwide chief executive Nick Emery and ZenithOptimedia worldwide managing partner Belinda Rowe both expressed concerns about block voting. In addition, a number of Media jury members who were not involved in the alleged collusion staged a protest and abstained from the voting process.

But when Media Lions jury president and OMD Worldwide chief executive, Mainardo de Nardis, was asked at the time if Omnicom-owned media networks were “well organised”, he refuted the claims. “I don’t think there was any block voting,” he said.

After AdNews first broke the story in June, the issue blew up in trade press around the world, with leading figures such as WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell and DDB Worldwide chief creative officer Amir Kassaei also entering the fray.

This article first appeared in the 30 November 2012 edition of AdNews, in print and on iPad. Click here to subscribe for more news, features and opinion.

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