Sorrell says WPP will rethink involvement in 'costly' Cannes

Lindsay Bennett
By Lindsay Bennett | 22 June 2017

WPP boss Martin Sorrell has questioned the value of Cannes Lions and said "the jury is out" on whether WPP might follow Publicis and pull out of the awards next year.

"Cannes has got to be rethought big time and repositioned," Sorrell said, speaking at a lunchtime event with the Financial Times at Cannes Lions today.

Sorrell said he has virtually halved the size of the team WPP sends to Cannes from 1,000 to 500. AdNews understands several agency leaders in Australia did not attend this year.

The WPP boss said there was a disconnect between the increasing expense of Cannes and pressure from clients for agencies to do more for less money.

He also questioned if the decision for Publicis to withdraw from 2018 proceedings, as well as the decline in entries, would provoke a review by the festival organisers.

“There is gouging that goes on and there is peak time pricing. Cannes in June is not the cheapest place in the world to be," Sorrell said, adding that a similar event in New York, London or Paris would be “more accessible”.

"Given some of the things that are going on at the moment, I think it is inappropriate," he added.

Sorrell labelled the event “too much of a money making exercise” and said its purpose - to celebrate creativity - had become lost.

Sorrell's comments follow a ruling from new Publicis boss Arthur Sadoun, which banned all Publicis agencies from entering any award shows in 2018 in an effort to reduce costs and shift spend towards a new artificial intelligence platform, Marcel.

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