- Cannes Lions canceled its annual Festival of Creativity in Cannes, France, citing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an announcement made Friday.
- The group owned by Ascential had previously postponed the festival, typically held in June, to October 2020. Following further discussions with partners and customers and given the unique safety and economic challenges posed by the pandemic, Cannes Lions opted for a full cancellation, a statement said.
- The next Festival of Creativity will be held June 21-25, 2021.
The Festival of Creativity is one of advertising's biggest annual events, doubling as a sort of Academy Awards for the industry in recognizing standout work and a major venue for networking and discussion. Its cancellation is both unsurprising in light of the broader impact of the coronavirus and also another blow to a sector that's been significantly disrupted by the pandemic.
"Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions," Philip Thomas, chairman of Cannes Lions, said in a statement. "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."
Companies are not only prioritizing employee health and safety, but also grappling with the economic fallout of the pandemic. Upon further consultations, Cannes Lions clearly saw that pushing the show to October didn't give enough leeway to struggling advertisers, signaling that many are hunkering down for the long haul and that other events dealing with postponements might also opt for full cancellation.
WPP, the world's largest ad holding firm, earlier this week announced it was enacting a hiring freeze and halting any discretionary spending, including travel and awards shows. IPG has asked its agencies to stop awards submissions until September, Ad Age reported, and other groups like Omnicom and Dentsu are rethinking their approach as well.
The Festival of Creativity is known for being expensive — submitting awards and securing badges typically comes with a high price tag — which has become a point of controversy in the industry as many agency groups struggle with growth and try to reduce unnecessary expenditures. The show previously pared down awards categories and made other moves to address the issue, but could have to further rejigger its approach if the coronavirus impact proves long-lasting.