Cannes cancelled: there will be no festival until 2021

Following lots of hints from the big holding companies that they would not be willing to spend money on entering and attending the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity this year, the organisers have decided to cancel the event entirely.

There had been plans to move it to late October, and then some ideas mooted around going digital, but in the end, Philip Thomas, chairman of Cannes Lions, accepted defeat in the wake of the severely restricted budgets that will affect all agencies and marketers for the rest of this year at least.

Thomas said: “Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions. We realise that the creative community has other challenges to face, and simply isn’t in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark.” Describing an “industry in turmoil,” Thomas’ adds: “We can play our small part by removing all speculation about the festival.”

The industry will miss the annual celebration of creativity more than it might like to admit, but Thomas has clearly made the right move. Cannes not only costs a lot of money for participants, it costs a lot of time to create the elaborate entries and case studies that jurors have come to expect, while judges will be busy trying to save their agencies rather than devoting a week to looking at other people’s work.

There wasn’t really anything to be salvaged for 2020 — Cannes is another Covid-19 casualty — and we can expect a major rethink of the event for 2021. There have long been calls for Cannes Lions to scale down the festival’s excesses, and there really can’t be any other option going forward.

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is the former London Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.