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Coronavirus Advertising

Cannes Lions, SXSW, Advertising Week Europe: the marketing events disrupted by coronavirus


By The Drum Team, Editorial

March 19, 2020 | 12 min read

The ongoing coronavirus crisis has hit a high level of concern globally and in recent weeks has begun to impact major marketing conferences and events in APAC and now in the US and Europe.

The Drum is updating on all the major events that have been cancelled, postponed or reimagined so far:


SXSW and Creative Week are among the latest events to be cancelled

Webby Awards

The 24th Annual Webbby Awards event, originally scheduled to take place 11 May in New York City, has been canceled. According to a letter by Claire Graves, executive director of the Webby Awards, the nominees will still be announced in the coming weeks with the launch of the Webby People’s Voice public voting and a new announcement schedule will be released soon, which will include a winners internet celebration.

Cannes Lions

Cannes Lions organisers have confirmed the annual International Festival of Creativity will not take place in June and instead be moved to October.

The news follows restrictions put in place by French prime minister Edouard Philippe to stop the spread of the virus that includes a ban on public gatherings and a temporary closure of French borders.

The PPA Festival

While the current government and Public Health England advice does not advise against holding events, in light of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the PPA Festival has taken the decision to postpone the festival from its scheduled date on 30 April.


The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A's) has decided to reschedule its Decisions 20/20 to early 2021 and its Management Practitioners Forum (MPF) to Fall 2020. The organization states that tickets for both events will be honored on the new dates.


The IPA has postponed its courses and events programme for the next four weeks as a precautionary measure. IPA courses and events are due to resume from Monday 13 April, however, this will be reassessed pending any further changes in the advice issued by Public Health England.


Disney has responded to the worsening coronavirus outbreak by pulling the plug on all major TV presentations throughout May, becoming the latest media company to withdraw from Upfronts Week in the process.

The annual Lincoln Center presentation was due to take place on 12 May but will now be ‘reinvented’ as a digital-only event, together with the earlier Hulu NewFronts event on 6 May. Together both events will introduce advertisers to the networks upcoming programming.


WarnerMedia, NBC Universal, CBS, Digitas, YouTube, Roku, Twitter and A&E Networks have all moved their presentations to streaming platforms. Fox News and AMC Networks have canceled theirs, so far.

AAF Advertising Hall of Fame Gala

The American Advertising Federation has decided to postpone the planned AAF Advertising Hall of Fame Gala that was set for 28 April 28 in New York. The new date will be 5 October 5, still in New York City. This is the first time in the 71 year history of the Advertising Hall of Fame that the gala has had to be rescheduled.

Cannes Lions

At the moment, the Cannes Lions festival will still run in June - although it is closely monitoring the situation.

A statement from the organisers read: "As the situation evolves around the world, we continue to monitor the developments on a daily basis. The health and safety of our community, our staff and the people of Cannes are our main priority. As of today, based on the advice from the city of Cannes, authorities and World Health Organisation we are still working towards Cannes Lions 2020 taking place as planned."

The French authorities have a ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people, this will be lifted on 15 April.

If the festival is to be postponed, 26-30 October 2020 is the favoured week.

Advertising Week Europe

Advertising Week Europe has now been delayed until mid-September, less than a week before the annual event was set to go ahead.

Postponed until 14 September over the concerns around the coronavirus, the same programming is expected to take place.

“Advertising Week prides itself on being an inclusive and accessible platform and we felt it was critical to ensure it could be comfortably and safely attended by British, European and global delegates.

As we continue to closely monitor the situation, the highest standards of hygiene practices will be enforced at the event, which follow protocols set by government and health officials in the United Kingdom,” said a statement.

“We remain committed to the live experience at Advertising Week Europe, harnessing our influential audience, face-to-face meetings and continuing professional development to help drive business forward.”

Creative Week 2020

Due to continued uncertainty around coronavirus and spread of Covid-19 in the US, The One Club for Creativity announced all in-person Creative Week events will move online for 2020. The events were scheduled to take place in a number of New York venues from 11-15 May.

The nonprofit organization will replace the in-person One Show, ADC 99th Annual Awards and Young Ones Student Awards ceremonies with streaming events to announce Pencil and Cube winners to the global creative community. Online versions of awards ceremonies and other related content are being discussed, with details to follow in the coming weeks.


After much speculation, the City of Austin has canceled the March dates for SXSW and SXSW EDU. The festival said it “will faithfully follow the City’s directions”.

“We are devastated to share this news with you. ‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation,” stated a post on the SXSW website.

The festival is exploring options to reschedule the event and is working to provide a virtual SXSW online experience as soon as possible for 2020 participants.


MIP TV is the latest event domino to fall, with the worsening Covid-19 outbreak in France forcing the cancellation of this year’s event, which will not be rescheduled.

The sudden cancellation of the film festival, which had been planned to run between 30 March and 2 April, has thrown into question the fate of the Cannes Film Festival itself which is still expected to take place at the end of May.

The Drum Pub at Advertising Week Europe and SXSW

The Drum has taken the decision not to go ahead with its pubs at Advertising Week and SXSW this month due to the developing coronavirus situation.

But a packed programme of high-profile interviews, keynotes and panels will still be taking place – in a dynamic new format – as plays host to a new global online festival from March 16-20.

Digital Transformation Festival will ensure The Drum’s audiences across the globe do not miss out on the inspiring talks and feisty debates scheduled to take place. Live and interactive, it will give remote attendees a chance to engage, ask questions and contribute insights in the safest manner possible.

More details about the Digital Transformation Festival schedule will be released in the coming days and you can register your interest now at the dedicated website.

Fox News IAB upfront

Fox News has become a casualty of the escalating Covid-19 outbreak after being forced to cancel its annual pitch to the advertising community as a ‘precautionary’ measure.

The upfront presentation was scheduled to have taken place on 24 March but as things stand Fox News is the only media company to change its plans, with the likes of CNN, the IAB and Comcast still on track to go ahead – albeit with both monitoring the situation closely.

Adobe Summit

Covid-19 has claimed another victim with the Adobe Summit switching to become a solely online event, as organisers exert an abundance of caution in preventing the potential for cross-infection among delegates.

The gathering had been expected to take place in Las Vegas between 29 March and 2 April but will now encourage participants to log-in remotely instead.

Google Cloud Next

Google is adopting a similar digital solution for its own Cloud Next event which is to be ‘reimagined’ as Google Cloud Next’20: Digital Connect, a digital-first event comprising streamed speeches, workshops and online ‘ask an expert’ sessions.

The new format will be introduced between 6 to 8 April.

Facebook F8

Facebook’s F8 developer conference became one of the first casualties of the virus last week after shelving plans to welcome an expected 5,000 delegates to the annual convention in San Jose this May.

This followed the identification of the first Coronavirus cases in the state which fueled mounting fears over local infections.

WFA Global Marketer Week

Originally supposed to be held from 31 March to 3 April in Singapore, the WFA has decided to postpone the event. It will now be held in Singapore from April 20 to 23, 2021.

The Drum's Predictions

The Drum’s first APAC Predictions Breakfast on 13 February, where the publication was to explore disruptions throughout business, culture and technology, has been postponed to a yet-to-be-announced date.

Speakers like Ishmit Bedi, APAC performance marketing manager at Google, Leela Nair, managing director at Ebiquity SEA, Ryan Murray, director, partnerships at White Ops, Sorcha John, managing director at Iris and Sonal Patel, managing director, SEA at Quantcast were originally scheduled to speak.

Singapore Women Entrepreneurs Development Program (WEDP)

The event which Procter & Gamble (P&G) organizes in partnership with WEConnect International was supposed to be held on 14 February.

The guest-of-honour was Dr. Lei Hsien Hsien, the first female chief executive Officer of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham SG). Sam Garcia, vice president supply chain Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa at Procter & Gamble was also supposed to grace the kick-off.

Splice Beta

The conference, held in Chiang Mai, targets media startups in Asia and looks at the transformation of media. Originally supposed to be held in February, it has been moved to 22 to 24 September 2020.

Overthrow II Festival

PHD Singapore has announced the Overthrow II Festival event, which explores the 10 different challenger strategies, or narratives and scheduled for 26 February 2020, has been postponed to a later date.

IT Show

One of the largest consumer electronics exhibitions in Singapore, the annual event was supposed to take place on March 12-15 at the Suntec Convention Centre. The organiser, Sphere Exhibits, has said it is delaying the events after considering the safety and health concerns of the exhibitors, partners and the public.

Art Basel Hong Kong

The Art Basel franchise, which has fairs in Miami and Basel, Switzerland has announced its Hong Kong event, which was scheduled for 17-21 March has been postponed.

It would have been the eighth edition of one of Asia’s most prestigious art fairs. In 2019, it drew some 88,000 people, including visitors from mainland China.

(This list was last updated at 15.00 GMT on Thursday 19 March)

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