Publicis Groupe commits to Cannes for 2019 as festival overhauls awards, content & pricing

By Stephen Lepitak | -

November 13, 2017 | 6 min read

Publicis Groupe has welcomed changes that have been announced around Cannes Lions for 2018, however it will continue to be absent from the festival for one-year as it diverts marketing costs elsewhere.

Ascential, the organisers of the annual festival has announced that the structure will move to run over a five-day-period, from Monday 18 June to Friday 22 June, integrating Lions Entertainment and Lions Innovation within the main Festival. Some of the Lions awards will also be rebranded “to protect the status of the Lion as the global symbol of creative achievement.”

Retired Lions include Promo & Activation, Integrated and Cyber, with new Lions being introduced such as Creative E-commerce, Industry Craft, Sustainable Development Goals, and Brand Experience. Charity work will also be judged separately while non-government organisational work and charity work will be awarded at separate ceremonies.

cannes lion

Cannes Lions overhauls its set up as Publicis commits to 2019

The awards will also see 120 sub categories removed and a limit of six-times being set on the number of times a piece of work can be entered while a revised points system will aim to ‘better represent the difficulty of winning a Lion’ in comparison with being shortlisted. This will see one point being awarded to gain shortlisting, but work will now need three points to win bronze, seven points to win silver, 15 points to win gold, 30 points for a grand prix and 35 points to win Grand Prix in Creative Effectiveness or Titanium (as opposed to the previous total of 12 points.)

Next year’s changes will also include a new content tracks;

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Reach - The insight, strategy and planning enabling brands to effectively reach consumers, at scale, in the ongoing war for attention.

Communications - The big creative idea – Where campaigns come to brilliant life through people, partnerships and processes.

Craft - The creative artistry, talent and skill required to deliver a beautifully executed solution and brings the creative idea to life.

Experience - The customer journey and the brand experiences designed to captivate audiences at every touch point.

Innovation - The ventures, products, business transformation and the new data-driven, tech-enabled solutions pushing the boundaries in creativity.

Impact - The commercial, creative problem solving that drives brand performance and the techniques used to measure, value and impact effectiveness.

Good - The creative from NGOs and charities that shifts culture, create change and positively impact the world.

And following criticism over the expense from the networks, especially last year, the full delegate pass will also be €900 cheaper.

Despite these changes Publicis will not be attending the festival or entering the awards in favor of supporting its own Viva Tech conference in Paris.

In a statement Arthur Sadoun, chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe said: “Ascential’s decision to re-center the Cannes Lions’ focus around creativity is commendable, and Publicis Groupe is looking forward to attending the Festival in 2019. We are pleased that our decision to refocus our investments for 12 months in order to create the platform of the future has inspired a larger discussion in the industry, leading to what are clearly some positive changes. Publicis Groupe has always been a driving force for innovation, and we remain strongly focused on and committed to creative excellence. Viva Tech 2018 will be a real celebration of transformative ideas and initiatives and a fitting precursor to our return to industry events from September 2018.”

Last month, WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell continued his criticism of the cost of the event and revealed that “many in our organisation felt that that was a wise decision” of the Publicis announcement to withdraw.

He also claimed that festival organisers had not responded to all of the concerns expressed by WPP and that no decision had yet been made as to whether it would enter and attend in 2018 itself. He was also critical of the Eurobest Awards, a sister festival and awards scheme, stating that he saw it being used “as a condition to further involvement in Cannes.”

He added: “One of our agencies in Europe has been told that they will only be considered for a position as a judge at Cannes if they enter the Eurobest Awards. We think that's an unacceptable practice. So, net-net, we made some proposals, we've had some response from Ascential, but as yet, we haven't had sufficient response.”

Meanwhile, IPG boss Michael Roth told The Drum that his network would remain committed to the festival while attending last year's event.

John Wren, chief executive of Omnicom, stated his approval also: “Cannes acknowledged that after 60 years it was time to hit the re-set button and that’s smart. We applaud the steps the festival has taken after seeking input from Omnicom and many agencies and CMOs across our industry. We are especially pleased to see the festival renew their focus on inspiring and energizing the next generation of creative talent – which, of course, is what the festival is – and should be -- all about.”

Read more views from senior agency personnel on how they would like to see the Festival evolve, asked before this announcement was made public, including Y&R chief David Sable and Laura Jordan Bambach, co-founder of Mr President.


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