Lions creates advisory board as future of Cannes in question

By AdNews | 26 June 2017

Questions over the future of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity have reached fever pitch with the organisers setting up an advisory bard to review the festival’s in the wake of Publicis Groupe's surprise decision to pull out of all awards programmes - international and local - for the next 12 months.

WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell has also voiced his concerns over the expense and value of Cannes Lions. Lions Festival says the committee, made up of senior clients, agency bosses and invested parties, will “help shape the future of the Festival and ensure it continues to respond to the needs of the industry”. It will meet for the first time shortly after the 2017 Festival.

Cannes Lions, the pinnacle event in the advertising calendar, has evolved and expanded as the industry has but its expansion isn't welcomed by everybody. What was once a haven for creatives is now a hotbed for tech providers, marketers and the consultancies, which are starting to increase their presence at the event as hey move further into the creative, media and marketing space.

The value of the event has been called into question with awards and work somewhat sidelined by the increasingly lavish parties.

Creatives are also turning their attention to other events such as SXSW is Texas or C2, the Canadian event, which is set to launch in Australia next year.

Philip Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events, organisers of Cannes Lions, says: “There have been a lot of discussions this week about the structure of the Festival, and we want to create the right Cannes Lions experience for all participants. The thing that unites them all is their belief in creativity as a powerful force in the world, and this is at the heart of everything we do.”

Pressure from two of the largest holding groups, Publicis and WPP, will certainly put pressure on Cannes Lions to shake things up to retain their interest and involvement.

Speaking at a Financial Times event in Cannes last week, Sorrell said the festival "has got to be rethought big time and repositioned". 

Publicis global CEO Arthur Sadoun said it was eschewing all awards and instead funnelling the dollars into developing its own artificial intelligence platform called Marcel, which aims to "anticipate clients' needs with its predictive behaviours". 

The committee already has the backing of P&G, Unilever, Heineken, AT&T and Burger King - some of the world’s biggest spending advertisers, and the most awarded brands.

P&G global chief brand officer Marc Pritchard says: "We attend Cannes Lions to focus on creativity to drive growth. It's the right time to step back and take a look at the best way forward for Cannes Lions to provide the best possible platform for creativity in our industry, and P&G is ready and willing to help."

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