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Publicis Groupe to Return to Cannes Lions Ad Fest in 2019

Publicis Groupe will be coming back to the Croisette after all starting with the 2019 Cannes Lions — after skipping next year’s global advertising-industry confab.

The French ad giant, whose holdings include DigitasLBi, Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, had this summer announced that it was dropping out of Cannes Lions based on a desire to cut spending on trade shows and awards competitions.

Now, Publicis says it “will actively participate” in the festival in 2019 and onward. It cited changes by Ascential Events, the company that produces Cannes Lions, to streamline the focus and format of the event as well as make it less expensive to attend.

“Ascential’s decision to re-center the Cannes Lions’ focus around creativity is commendable, and Publicis Groupe is looking forward to attending the festival in 2019,” chairman and CEO Arthur Sadoun said in a statement.

Next year, as Publicis previously announced, the company will hold its own three-day advertising-creativity event, VivaTech, in Paris from May 24-26, 2018, instead of attending Cannes Lions.

The announcement from Publicis Groupe came as Ascential announced several key changes that will take effect beginning with the 2018 Cannes Lions. That includes cutting the schedule from eight to five days (the 2018 event will run June 18-22), with programming organized across nine core tracks.

In addition, under an agreement with the City of Cannes, hotel prices for 2018 will be frozen; fixed-price menus will offered exclusively for festival-goers holders at more than 50 restaurants; and taxi fares will be capped. “Our customers made it clear that they had a significant issue with the affordability of the city of Cannes, and we shared this feedback with our city partners,” commented Jose Papa, managing director of Cannes Lions.

Other changes announced for Cannes Lions 2018 include:

  • the elimination of Cyber Lions, Integrated Lions and the Promo Lions awards;
  • the removal of 120 awards sub-categories;
  • the return of Lions Entertainment and Lions Innovation as part of the main festival in the Palais;
  • a change to points allocations for Special Awards (Holding Company of the Year, Agency of the Year, Network of the Year) “to appropriately reward the very best work”; and
  • a new entry cap to limit each piece of work to a maximum of six Lions categories.

“We have spent a lot of time talking to the relevant people to make sure the festival is not only as aspirational as possible, but to also ensure the sentiment behind the festival is fundamentally founded on the work and those behind it,” Ascential Events chief exec Philip Thomas said in a statement.

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