Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP, arrived at Cannes Lions on the fourth day of the festival. Apart from attending sessions such as the seminar with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, he dedicated day five of the festival meeting with other delegates at Cannes Lions. Sorrell spent some time with exchange4media too, and the conversation ranged on a host of topics – from Google to recession; from new markets, new media and consumer insights driving future growth to shift in power from the West to East, and on Cannes Lions.
Many industry observers have stated that an initiative like the Cannes Lions is sensible even in recession since the industry still needs a platform, and perhaps in a sense some reassurance that the world around is not falling apart. But when everyone is speaking about saving monies and cutting costs, how does the expense on awards seem justified? Sorrell replied to this saying that the very fact that the number of delegates has dropped by 40 per cent and the number of entries by 20 per cent showed that the industry officials have been disciplined in their spending.
He said, “People have cut back this year. The number of entries and people are down and it shows that people have tried and behaved responsibly.” He added, “The organisers have broadened the show now, and there is Design Lions and PR Lions too. The pity about that is that the smaller agencies don’t get the opportunity because of the cost of the entries. If you look at the PR awards, out of the 15 Lions awarded, only three went to PR agencies -- that is a bit bizarre. It is more restrained, subdued and that is probably given the circumstances. On the other hand, it is important to celebrate the triumph of the industry and of the people who have done well. Also clients like this, and our people also like it, so it alright.”
Ever since the recession has hit the industry, many creative heads have been quoted on saying that if there ever was a need of a great idea, it was now. Many have been divided on whether that kind of cutting edge work was seen at the awards this year, but Sorrell stated that there was work that acknowledged the change in circumstances. He said, “There was a lot of work that acknowledged the circumstances, and acknowledged the change in the circumstance. The industry is in very tough shape because after Lehmann, the world came to a halt. Warren Buffet talked about Pearl Harbour, the British govt was talking about the possibility of putting in a bank holiday on a Monday -- it was a catastrophe. You are seeing the impact of that in what people are doing. Has it changed the consumption patterns, I don’t know. But you would see these changes continue for the long term.”
Sorrell had much more to say. Read exchange4media’s Dialogue section later today for the complete interview.