WPP regains Cannes Lions Holding Company of the Year title in a year when awards flowed and rosé didn’t

In the final clutch of awards from Cannes Lions, Holding Company of the Year for 2020/21 went to WPP, which usually wins the accolade but lost out to Omnicom in 2018, the last time it was given out.

In the absence of rosé-fuelled gossip from La Croisette, and with celebrity appearances confined to pre-recorded videos, Cannes really was only about the awards this year. There were an awful lot of Lions given out via a constant stream of announcements, but the industry clearly relished the opportunity to give itself a pat on the back after a very difficult year or two.

Burger King was named number one “creative brand of the festival” and Dove took third slot in this list (both WPP clients), so CEO Mark Read’s victory was pretty comprehensive. Bodyform/Libresse, which came in second, made a good showing for Omnicom.

Read said: “What so many of the winners at this year’s Cannes had in common was a commitment to harnessing the power of creativity to bring about change for the better in the world. My ambition for WPP is that we are known as the world’s most creative organisation, and one that uses its creativity to build better futures for our people, planet, clients and communities. Becoming the most creative company in our industry is a good place to start.”

Interpublic Group’s FCB won Network of the Year, thanks to an impressive spread of awards including three Grand Prix from three different offices: London (in creative e-commerce for its “Raising Profiles” work for The Big Issue and LinkedIn), New York, and Chicago.

Titanium Lions for “game changing creativity” were also handed out on the final day, bringing another Grand Prix for AMV BBDO and Libresse, this time for the #WombPainStories work, which viscerally chronicles the myriad experiences that come with having a womb.

The Grand Prix for Good went to Publicis Mexico and Publicis Latvia for #StillSpeakingUp DeepTruth, which gave a voice to murdered journalists.

The Sustainable Development Goals Grand Prix was awarded to “The 2030 Calculator” for Doconomy, a climate action loyalty programme, by Farm in Stockholm. It’s a speedy device that allows brands to quantify the carbon footprint of the products they manufacture.

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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.