- Cannes Lion owner Ascential has launched an advisory committee to shape the future of the event following a year that saw some significant hiccups, according to Campaign.
- The move comes after Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun announced his group was pulling out of all awards and trade shows for the next year both as a cost-cutting measure and also to work on a new artificial intelligence unit named Marcel.
- Major brands including Unilever, P&G, Burger King, AT&T and Heineken have all given commitments to be involved in Ascential's committee, with more members to "be announced soon," per Campaign.
The conversation around the utility of Cannes Lions is happening at a time when the agency space is in flux amid growing competition from consultancies and as more brands take agency work in-house. The advertising festival is well-known for being lavish — attending can reportedly cost agencies anywhere from $8,000 to $20,000 per person — and many major players in the space including WPP and Dentsu Aegis went into the 2017 event in lower numbers and with stricter guidelines around expenses as a belt-tightening measure.
There is also discussion around the growing importance of VidCon, a conference for video creators, for marketers that took place at the same time as Cannes Lions last week.
WPP head Martin Sorrell has aired complaints about Cannes Lions shortcomings and expenses, and bemoaned that it's not in a more convenient location like New York City, London or Paris. The ad executive did, however, criticize Publicis' move to ditch all industry events full-stop with little warning, according to Adweek. He said that, given the current challenges the industry is facing, a boycott isn't the right approach and also hasn't worked in the case of the recent YouTube controversies.
The announcement from Publicis was part of 2.5% cost savings for 2018 and tied into its "Power of One" strategy that intends to position the holding group as a platform instead of an agency network. WPP is another major holding company undergoing restructuring and consolidation.