ZenithOptimedia flags global boycott of Cannes Media Lions

By Paul McIntyre | 24 June 2012
Belinda Rowe

EXCLUSIVE: ZenithOptimedia has threatened a worldwide boycott of the Media Lions if steps are not taken by the Cannes Festival organisers to address perceptions that block voting by some media agency networks is rife.

ZO’s worldwide managing partner Belinda Rowe told AdNews the group was meeting next week to decide on further action but withdrawing from Cannes entries across its network was an option.

The issue of block voting in the Media competition has gone global after AdNews broke the story last Wednesday morning, which saw Rowe and Mindshare global CEO Nick Emery raise concerns about jury members from rival networks skewing voting to favour their own networks.

“Now it has become very public, and it’s very good that it has, the Festival has to address this,” Rowe said. “Otherwise we would seriously consider not entering those awards. If the work is not going to be properly judged, it’s a problem.

“It’s disappointing for me. It seems that the best work was not necessarily chosen. That’s the biggest issue. We need to get people focused back on the work. Listening to other jurors in other categories, there is a really big focus on the work. I’m sure it happens on other panels but not to the same level that it seems to be on the Media jury.”

When asked about ZO’s threat of a boycott, Cannes Festival chairman Terry Savage said: “What do I say? We are going to check everything. There are a lot more safeguards in place than people realise. But we’re going to look at it.”

Other industry players, who did not want to be named, said the debate needed some sobriety brought to it.

“I think about 70% of all Media Lions entries are not from media companies,” one said. “They are from advertising agencies. That needs to be considered in all this.”

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