×

Publicis to Exit Cannes Lions, And WPP May Follow Suit

Is Cannes Lions getting too big for its own good?

Ad giant Publicis Groupe stunned the marketing world this week after announcing it would pull out of the Cannes Lions event next year, along with other events including SXSW and CES. Following the surprising news, Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP, told Variety that his company was having second thoughts as well, as he suggested Cannes Lions’ focus has expanded to become too diffuse — and too sprawling.

Cannes Lions, which started in 1954, has centered on awards to recognize the best advertising creative in the world. In recent years, it has attracted a growing flock of ad-tech firms, internet and media companies, and entertainment execs.

Publicis’ decision to drop out of Cannes Lions, set by newly installed chief Arthur Sadoun, was motivated by a desire to cut spending on trade shows and awards competitions. According to a memo sent to Publicis agencies, which include DigitasLBi, Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, the moratorium is effective July 1 and will extend for at least one year.

Sadoun — who assumed the CEO spot earlier this month, taking over for Maurice Levy — says the money Publicis saves will be invested into an artificial-intelligence initiative, dubbed Marcel, designed to facilitate better companywide collaboration.

In the wake of Publicis’ exit from Cannes Lions, WPP’s Sorrell left the question open about whether the company’s agencies, which include Grey, J. Walter Thompson, Ogilvy & Mather and Y&R. In the Variety interview Wednesday afternoon here in Cannes, he complained that Cannes Lions has grown beyond its original mission of focusing on creative excellence in advertising.

“This has morphed into a worldwide event, but I think it’s trying to be too many things to too many people,” Sorrell said. “Probably a bit too broad, and it’s probably lost its way.”

Sorrell, 72, and said other locations might be more suitable for a global worldwide advertising conference. The British advertising and media titan suggested that, for example, the $450 million Brooklyn Navy Yard development in New York City would have the space — and access to a major metropolis — for an ad-industry confab. Cannes, he noted, is not a terribly convenient destination for many in the industry.

Asked if WPP was going to potentially pull out of Cannes Lions, Sorrell said, “I think we should take a good, hard look at it.”

“Maybe Cannes in the middle of June is not the best destination,” he said. “You could do what Cannes does but in a different environment, and probably more powerfully.” In addition to New York, he suggested London, Paris or Berlin as possible places for a Cannes Lions-style confab celebrating advertising creative.

The good thing about Cannes Lions’ more expansive scope, including the presence of internet companies like Facebook and Google, is that it has redefined creativity beyond just 30-second TV spots, Sorrell said, “beyond ‘Mad Men’ and that narrow definition.”

More Biz

  • Andrew Weatherall at Caught by the

    British DJ-Producer Andrew Weatherall Dies at 56

    British music producer, DJ and record-label founder Andrew Weatherall, who co-produced Primal Scream’s landmark 1991 album “Screamadelica” and helped bring the acid house genre into the mainstream, died Monday in a London hospital from a pulmonary embolism, his management confirmed to the Guardian. He was 56. “He was being treated in hospital but unfortunately the [...]

  • Bertelsmann CEO Says RTL, ProSiebenSat.1 Should

    Bertelsmann CEO Says RTL, ProSiebenSat.1 Should Be Free to Merge

    The CEO of German media giant Bertelsmann has said its RTL Group TV division should be allowed to merge with German rival ProSiebenSat.1 and called for a loosening of E.U. antitrust regulations in order to better stave off intensifying competition from U.S. streaming giants. In an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung published on [...]

  • Politicians and Petition Support BBC Following

    Politicians and Petition Support BBC Following Reports of Major Cuts

    A war of words around the future of the BBC continued on Monday amid reports of severe cutbacks to the U.K. public broadcaster. The Sunday Times reported over the weekend that Downing Street, the seat of the U.K. government, was planning to replace the annual BBC license fee with a subscription service; sell most of [...]

  • Sharp Objects

    Entertainment One Commits to Drama: 'Hasbro Bought the Business to Expand It'

    “Sharp Objects” and “Run” producer-distributor Entertainment One is reassuring partners of its commitment to drama following its acquisition by toy giant Hasbro. EOne has always cultivated a strong set of procedurals, such as ABC’s Nathan Fillion-starrer “The Rookie” and Fox’s Stephen Dorff-led “Deputy,” but has also gained traction with cable propositions such as HBO’s “Sharp [...]

  • United States President Barack Obama (L)

    Barack Obama on Kobe Bryant's Death: 'Nothing Is More Heartbreaking'

    President Barack Obama spoke about the heartbreaking deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and the seven other victims of the shocking helicopter crash last month. “That loss is something that I know many are still grappling with — particularly, Kobe, because he was with his daughter and those families and those children. And those [...]

  • Kobe Bryant Dead

    How to Get Tickets to the Kobe and Gianna Bryant Memorial Service

    The Los Angeles Lakers have announced that fans that wish to attend the public memorial of Kobe and Gianna Bryant can register for tickets online beginning Friday. The memorial will take place at 10 a.m. on Feb. 24 at Los Angeles’ Staples Center. Kobe and Gianna Bryant were among the nine killed in a helicopter [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content