Marketing Cannes Lions News

Cannes Lions U-turns on physical festival for 2021 – what you need to know


By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

April 7, 2021 | 4 min read

Cannes Lions Festival organizers have confirmed that the event will not take place in France this year as planned, and will instead be run as a “fully digital experience“.

Cannes Lions U-turns on physical festival as 2021 event moves online

The announcement comes just months after producers insisted the festival would take place in-person on the French Rivera in June / Cannes Lions

The announcement comes just months after producers insisted the festival would go ahead on the French Rivera in June – news which prompted a mixed reaction from the advertising industry following the cancellation of 2020's event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the five-day program of events and awards shows will now be fully digital, running as Cannes Lions Live, from 21-25 June.

'Uniting the global community virtually'

  • Philip Thomas, chairman at Lions, said that over the last year the festival had been “consulting with customers“ and working on its plans, which had led to this decision.

  • “We are now able to move fully to this format for 2021 - which will have all the celebration, inspiration and participation of Cannes Lions - to unite the global community virtually during Cannes Lions Live this June,“ added Thomas.

  • This has included the development of Cannes Lions Live as part of its new Lions Membership platform which is set to launch in May. The year-round subscription-only platform has been created to unite the global creative community through access to inspiration, learning and creative resources.

  • All Lions members will receive complimentary access to this year’s Cannes Lions Live with their subscription fee – including live awards results, analysis, and commentary, inspirational sessions, immersive community experiences, and a dedicated ‘creativity on demand’ channel.

  • Lions managing director Simon Cook said: “Cannes Lions Live will also signal the return of the Lions awards. After the benchmark of the awards was paused last year, we want to be able to give our community the chance to immerse themselves in the creative work once again.

  • “We’ll be championing the work on a huge scale - tracking progress throughout the week, analysing the winners, delivering insights, identifying new talent - it’s the return of the benchmark and a moment for the industry to reflect but also look forward.“

Why it matters

  • Until now, Cannes Lions had broken ranks with other major events such as SXSW, CES and Sundance, all of which have confirmed that they are pursuing a fully digital calendar through 2021 months ago in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

  • The decision to move the event to a pure-play online festival comes amid speculation Cannes Lions was to move to a 'hybrid' setting with gatherings set for London and New York. However, this isn't the case.

  • Each June, around 15,000 registered delegates from 90 countries visit Cannes to celebrate the best commercial creativty.

  • Further information on Cannes Lions Live will be released over the coming weeks, including details of the immersive experiences and talent lined up to be a part of the week. Standalone digital passes (without membership benefits) will be priced at $296/€249.

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