Cannes Lions slashes prices, shortens event

Welcome to a shorter and hopefully sharper Cannes Lions

In the age of short attention spans and the freemium economy, the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was an oddity. Spending 8 days in Cannes is expensive enough, but agencies were also faced with pretty astronomical entrance fees plus fees to enter projects in the hope of a prize.

So change came a-knocking at the door. The short pitch is that Cannes Lions will be shorter, more focused and cheaper from this year on. Can’t argue with that!

Jetty on Croisette during Cannes LionsKeeping the lion king

The challenge for such a massive event is to remain relevant and accessible. In a statement, it has said: “As the festival continues to grow, it’s important that creativity and the work remain the dominant feature. The festival experience needs updating to mirror the evolution of the industry and better match its needs. The current structure of the Lions needs updating, to protect the status of the Lion as the global symbol of creative achievement.”

That is quite a euphemism given the turmoil that the advertising sector is going through. Advertising giant Publicis had already taken the decision to skip all industry events for a year to focus resources (not just money) on developing “the platform of the future”. WPP had also been very vocal in its criticism. Status is one thing; ensuring that a trade fair and awards ceremony makes business sense is something else.

So Cannes Lions has approached this from a number of angles. For one thing, the number of categories and sub-categories has been reduced (farewell Cyber Lions, what did you represent in this day and age?). Agencies can also only submit projects to six categories, which reduces the temptation to blanket submit (with the attendant costs) and also reducing the enormous admin on the event side. The conference programme will be tightened and lastly the number of days will be reduced from 8  to 5 (June 18-22, 2018). Significantly, a full €900 has been knocked off the full-access ticket.

The projects will also be visible in more locations, including in the town of Cannes itself.

With a healthy 16,000 participants last year, Cannes Lions is still a very vibrant event. But the experience from Midem is that if you don’t make changes quickly enough the changes that inevitably happen anyway will not be to your liking.

Check their website for details.

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