Cannes Lions cancelled for 2020, Indian marketers react

The organisers of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity have announced that this year's event has been cancelled. The event was rescheduled to October after the outbreak of coronavirus. Now, with more than a million people suffering from the virus, organisers have stated that the next edition of the festival will run from 21-25 June.

06 Apr 2020 | By PrintWeek Team

The organisers added that their priorities have shifted to the need to protect people and to serve consumers with essential items with an added focus to preserve companies, society and economies.   Philip Thomas, chairman, Cannes Lions, said, “Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions. We realise that the creative community has other challenges to face, and simply isn’t in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark. The marketing and creative industries, in common with so many others, are currently in turmoil, and it’s clear that we can play our small part by removing all speculation about the festival this year. We have tried to make our decisions as early as possible to give the industry total clarity on the situation, and that is why we are announcing this move today.”  

Simon Cook, managing director, Cannes Lions, added, “We all look ahead to a more positive time. Right now, Cannes Lions will continue to bring the global creative community together and provide inspiration where we can find it. Our recent call for inspirational creative stories from around the world has already garnered hundreds of accounts of our community uniting and showing progress in this crisis. We believe firmly that the Lions continue to offer valuable recognition to that community and we look forward to celebrating and honouring the work in 2021, when the world will hopefully feel more stable, and our community can give their work the focus it deserves.” 

Reactions from India's top agency leaders

Amit Akali, managing partner and creative head at What’s Your Problem, believes that while the event couldn’t happen on-ground an online version could have helped.

“There’s nothing more important than people and their health. But at the same time Cannes is a tribute and recognition of a whole year’s work. It also sets the trend for what’s happening in the world of advertising. With the festival being cancelled this learning will also be missed out on. I was hoping, in keeping with the changing world there could be an online version of the festival. At least the awards happening online would have given us the learning that Cannes give us and given the work the recognition it deserves. If someone can pull off an online festival and of scale and show the ad world a new path, it is Cannes,” Akali said.

S4 Capital’s country director for India, Poran Malani agrees with Akali about the possibility of an online version.

“I think it’s the right move given the extraordinary circumstances we’re in. If it does persist longer than anticipated it could be an opportunity to move some of the awards online. I know as a group of people we like to meet and mingle but the sharing of best talent and work can still be done without the physical meet. Many of our clients are having to move from physical events to digital. Perhaps this could happen, in part, here too,” Malani said.

According to a senior marketer from a finance company who is a Cannes regular, and did not wish to be named, the organisers should use this break to reinvent the festival.

“The world is going to change dramatically post this. It’s a great and God-sent opportunity for the organisers to re-think the festival and reinvent itself. In today’s world what role does Cannes want to play is important to figure. They’ve been tinkering with the format and it’s neither here nor there right now. As a brand champion would advise his brand or client on how to reinvent itself with changing time and schedule. Cannes needs to do that to. The organisers should use this one year to look forward to a fresh and relevant Cannes in 2021,” he said.

Ashish Bhasin, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific and Govind Pandey, CEO, TBWA\ India, gave the organisers the thumbs up too. Bhasin said it’s the right decision given the current circumstances while Pandey believed it was bound to happen as no agency is in a position to participate for the festival this year.

Satbir Singh, founder, Thinkstr, echoed Bhasin and Pandey’s views.

“There is too much pain and uncertainty in the world today. We are starting at a global recession. Across industries, there’s going to be massive job losses and pay cuts. The last thing on agencies’ and clients’ minds right now would be thinking of participating in awards shows, with entries and delegates. And Cannes costs a lot of money. If Olympics can be pushed, Cannes can certainly be. It is the best thing to do,” Singh said.

Ketan Desai, COO, Grey Group, added, “Not holding an advertising festival isn’t going to stop creativity. This is the time to use the money we spend on helping our local communities, not burden our staff with paycuts or layoffs. Time to be more creative for our clients. Awards will come, if not in 2020, then 2021.

Raj Kamble, founder and CCO, Famous Innovations, was a tad bit disappointed with the organisers, who were still increasing the entry fee for late award entries despite the uncertainty and the event being postponed to October. He suggests next year’s award entry fees be reduced. “When the first news came from Cannes of the postponement, they still asked for the late entry fees. I thought it was unfair and insensitive.... I have been attending Cannes for the last 15 years and also learnt a lot. I was hoping and wanting the organisers to stand up and do something rather than call for entries. It’s not the time to do business. They have to keep this in mind and reduce fees for next year hopefully. We have huge expectations from Cannes. I’m not happy that it is cancelled this year, but it’s the right thing to do,” Desai said.

Kawal Shoor, co-founder, The Womb, stated that he will miss the learning bit of the festival, but is more concerned with the Indian Premier League likely to not take place. “Personally, I am more taken in by the IPL likely to not happen. Clients, their launches, big work that agencies had lined up… all will take a back seat. Wimbledon will also be missed. Cannes is a little incestuous party in comparison that happens within the industry and a bit beyond. What I’ll miss though is the learning side of it. But, there are larger things to tackle at this stage,” he said.

(Courtesy: Campaign India)

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