Amidst reports of a threat by WPP to skip the Cannes Lions next year, followed by withdrawal from the Eurobest competition this year, Cannes Lions Chairman Terry Savage told BestMediaInfo.com that they were in discussion with WPP and any changes to the festival would take place after consulting all the stakeholders.
“Our stand has always been that we are great listeners and that is reflected in the fact that the changes regarding Cannes have been progressive. Because we listen to our customers, the changes in past have been rampant and significant. We have included the emergence of consultancy, data, tech, content and emerging things that reflect the industry. If the industry feels it is time to change, we will work with our customers to reflect what is happening in the industry,” said Savage.
Asked if or not the number of categories will be reduced by 120 as demanded by WPP, Savage said it is being discussed with all the stakeholders. “We will work with our all partners to make a common need and common objective,” added Savage.
Savage did not give an exact timeframe when the changes will be announced. However, he said that Cannes Lions will have clarity on the way forward in the next few weeks.
On the concerns raised over change of venue, Savage said, “Cannes is synonymous with the festival of creativity but as I said we are the reflection of the industry and we work with our customers, I’m not sure what will happen in future. But right now we are committed to Cannes and that has not changed.”
The controversy around Cannes Lions started this year with Publicis Groupe’s announcement in the middle of the festival that its agencies will not support any event for the next 12 months. WPP CEO Martin Sorrell expressed his concerns over the RoI of Cannes Lions triggering conversations around cost cutting.
Asked if there is any conversation around reducing entry fees, Savage said, “The reality is that Cannes is a premier award show in the world. People come to Cannes because that could be a game changer at any level. Right now we are listening to our customers and basis that we may make some decisions but it is actually premature to say anything on this.”
Savage refused to accept that the festival was under any pressure. “The change will just be the reflection of the industry keeping the core value of Cannes Lions intact. The Lion will still be the Lion,” he said.
According to Savage, the judging process is not any matter of discussion. On concerns about fair judging, Savage said, “We have a system that has been measuring the judging in real-time and it flashes immediately when there is any irregularity in judging. There have always been conversations around this which I have been hearing for last 30 years but the reality is that the system is particularly effective, making such conversations the urban myth.”