Why Cannes Lions Is Slimming Down Next Year

After a major agency attendee chose to stay away from the popular multiday Cannes Lions advertising industry event and awards ceremony, organizers did some trimming and reorganizing—and saw a positive reaction from the industry right off the bat.

One of the most prominent awards shows in the advertising industry is trimming back—at the behest of the agencies that it aims to feature at its event.

This week, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, an annual festival honoring successes in advertising and marketing, announced it would slim down its offering from eight days to five days, while simplifying the structure of its awards, creating clear event tracks, trimming award subcategories, and cutting prices for attendance.

That last point is definitely on a lot of minds at the moment, as a result of a decision by the advertising giant Publicis to sit out the 2018 awards in favor of saving money for an internal project, a move so dramatic that it caught the entire industry off guard.

While Publicis’ decision and concerns raised by other ad industry holding companies played a role in the big shift (and certainly a lot of people have opinions on what the event should become), Cannes Lions Director of Creative Excellence Simon Cook told AdWeek that changes were due for the awards ceremony, which celebrates its 65th anniversary next year.

“We get feedback from all sorts of people all the time,” he said to the magazine. “This is a deeper level of engagement, maybe. The changes for 2018 are perhaps more radical and exciting than we’ve seen in the last few years. We feel it’s the right thing for the festival, and for everyone involved.”

One revamp worth pondering is the higher focus on content tracks, which came with the help of the ad industry and are meant to help structure the many awards handed out during the multiday event.

“For a long time, all those Lions just sat under the banner of ‘creativity’ or the banner of ‘Cannes Lions,’” Cook added. “Especially if you’re someone new to the festival, it can be quite difficult and quite daunting to navigate. Introducing those nine tracks, those nine disciplines of creativity, provides us with a set of constants, year on year, which resonate with different customer sets that come to the festival.”

One early sign that the strategy is working: Publicis says it’s back on for the 2019 awards, calling the structural changes “commendable,” though it will still stay away in 2018.

(Handout photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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