Cannes Lions to be ‘streamlined and focused’ in 2018 revamp as Publicis pledges return

Following criticism from holding companies and attendees, the Cannes Lions has undergone a revamp for its next event to simplify the festival and reduce costs, organisers Ascential Events announced overnight.

In a bid to ‘streamline and focus’ the festival, 2018’s event will be shortened from eight days to five while prices for general delegates will be significantly reduced.

Coinciding with the announcement, Publicis Groupe, which very publicly announced its withdrawal from 2018’s event earlier this year, vowed it would return to the sun-soaked festival in 2019.

The Lions’ future has been under a cloud this year following Publicis’ boycott and WPP’s threats to turn its back on the festival. However, the changes look to address the criticisms that the event has become too expensive and cumbersome for attendees.

Addressing concerns regarding the costs, the festival’s organisers will cut the price for general delegates by €900.

Meanwhile, 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.

Categories such as Cyber, Integrated and the Promo & Activation Lions will be replaced with three new categories, while a new points system will ‘better represent the difficulty of winning a Lion’ in comparison with being shortlisted.

The axed categories will be replaced with Brand Experience, Creative e-commerce and Social Influencer Lions when the festival returns to the South of France on June 18.

However, Publicis will commit to its plan to remain away from 2018’s festival – alongside other award shows and marketing events – as part of a cost-cutting measure. Next year, the French holding company will instead focus on unveiling its AI platform, Marcel, at Viva Tech in Paris.

Arthur Sadoun, chairman and chief executive of Publicis Groupe, said in a statement: “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.”

Neither WPP nor Sir Martin Sorrell have yet commented on the announcement.

In an additional part of the Young Lions’ reorganisation, more than 650 passes will be given away to younger attendees.

“It’s vital that young creatives get to experience Cannes Lions and can take advantage of all the learning, inspiration and networking on offer,” said Papa. “This new Young Lions scheme will welcome a new generation of young creatives to the Festival.”

To keep with the festival’s priorities, fixed-price menus will be on offer exclusively for Festival badge holders at more than 50 restaurants around the city of Cannes. The local council will also make free Wi-Fi available on the Croisette and beaches with hotel prices and taxi fares capped during the week.



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