Cannes Lions owner Ascential reveals awards entries down 21% and Warc acquisition

Publicis pause & restructuring bring Cannes Lions entries down

Cannes Lions has reported a significant drop in entries for its awards programme this year with 32,372 entries received (down from 41,170 last year) as a temporary pull-out by Publicis and a restructuring of the event took their toll.

This was despite an 84% year on year increase in the number of brands entering the awards which was insufficient to make up the shortfall created by the year-long Publicis Groupe hiatus together with the scrapping of three awards – cyber, integrated and promo & activation.

These changes were compounded by the removal of over 120 sub-categories from across the Lions platform which is estimated to have reduced numbers by 13%, despite the addition of two new categories – creative ecommerce and sustainable development goals – which between them added 1,166 entries.

The absence of Publicis is calculated to have hit entry numbers by as much as 8% - despite the holding company still having 399 campaigns entered for awards thanks to clients paying the fees on its behalf this year.

Cannes Lions' organisers promised to rethink the event following grumblings from the industry at last year's gathering that it had become too big and too expensive.

Philip Thomas, chief executive of Cannes Lions owner Ascential Events, said: "Last year we made the decision to press the reset button on Cannes Lions. We closed three big Lion awards, and removed and combined many sub-categories. We did it knowing that this would mean a smaller volume of entries, but it was the right decision for the long term."

Analysis of this year’s entries highlights a 59% increase in the number of media owners submitting work as well as an industry-wide investment in creative effectiveness.

In tandem with publication of its entry figures, Ascential today also announced its acquisition of specialist information provider Warc for £24m by 2 July. Going forward Warc will be combined with Cannes Lions’ new digital platform, The Work, to form an all new digital subscription product.

Cannes Lions winners will be revealed throughout this year’s festival between 18 and 22 June, attended by The Drum which will be playing host to a series of industry talks on its own boat and waterfront pub.

The festival's managing director, Jose Papa, recently spoke to The Drum about what attendees can expect from the overhauled event next week.

Get The Drum Newsletter

Build your marketing knowledge by choosing from daily news bulletins or a weekly special.