Cannes 2011 to award new gong to best holding company – is this good news for WPP creative boss John O’Keeffe?

The Cannes Lions are always up for yet another award and this year the festival is going to award the best marcoms holding company, based on points gathered all the way up from shortlists (in a bewildering number of categories ranging from best film to best PR to best activation to best opening of an envelope, possibly) to the big winners of gold, titanium, creative effectiveness (another new category) and grand prix.

In theory this should be very good news for John O’Keeffe, worldwide creative director of WPP and the man charged by boss Sir Martin Sorrell with ensuring that WPP wins more awards at Cannes than Omnicom, Publicis Groupe and all the others.

After all, WPP has more companies in all these categories than the rest of the world combined and, so long as O’Keeffe successfully dragoons them all into entering, this award should be a shoe-in.

So is it a WPP plot?

Not so says Cannes Lions CEO Philip Thomas, claiming that none of the marcoms companies had asked for such an award, he just thought it would be a good idea.

But O’Keeffe, who abandoned the (relatively) calm waters of BBH for WPP, is on a hiding to nothing. If he wins everyone will say it’s a fix because WPP was bound to win. If he doesn’t he’ll be tarred and feathered and run out of Farm Street (WPP’s HQ).

Still, it should add a bit more spice to proceedings.

And I wonder how much the organisers are planning to charge the holding companies?

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.