Cannes Lions will be giving out awards for 2020 and 2021 – but will the festival really take place?

The Cannes Lions Festival looks set to go ahead in some form or other in June, although at the moment the organisers are confirming only that “the awarding of the Lions will take place as usual during the third week of June.”

Juries will be appointed, entries will be paid for and judged, and, if we are lucky, some of us might get down to the Côte d’Azur for an experience that partly resembles the annual industry celebration as we know it. Social distancing isn’t a familiar concept at the week-long festival, where packed bars, restaurants and judging chambers are the norm.

Entries are being invited for work from both 2020 and 2021, which will make judging a mammoth task. There is a huge value in winning a Cannes Lions, and their absence this year has left a big hole in the industry, but surely it makes sense to put 2020 behind us?

The plan is to present and judge the work in person, but Lions Chairman Philip Thomas is realistic. He says: “While travel is currently constrained, the availability of multiple vaccines offers hope that we can be together in June, even if we need to limit the numbers of delegates who can safely attend… it’s clear from talking to the global industry that everybody is very keen to come together again.”

However it works out, Cannes will build on the online element of the festival, which first launched in 2016 with the Digital Pass allowing access to some of the sessions for people who weren’t there in person.

Lions managing director Simon Cook says: “For more than 65 years, Cannes Lions has set the benchmark for great creative work, and after the disappointment of postponing the 2020 Lions awards, we look forward to presenting the work to the Juries in June. We look forward to being inspired by the work that will set the global standard across two years at Cannes Lions.”

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall
Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe 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.

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