Cannes 2020 canned: What will adlanders miss about the French Riviera? 

Industry leaders say that although they will miss the networking and exchange of ideas, the decision to cancel the Festival was a right one and also calls for some introspection

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Apr 6, 2020 10:13 AM
Cannes Lions 2020

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to create a massive dent across businesses. From turbulence in the skies with travel bans across the globe to the cloud of uncertainty over many other businesses, Cannes Lions— the biggest of the advertising and marketing events — has also opted to push this year’s festival to 2021.

 While the event had been initially rescheduled for this October, the organisers had to completely call it off. The next edition of the festival will now run from June 21 to 25, 2021.

 We spoke to industry leaders about what they would miss about the French Riviera and if the decision to cancel the festival was a right one. 

Industry leaders gave a thumbs up to the decision to cancel this year’s festival and that they looked forward to the 2021 event. Some even suggested that it was in any way time for some serious introspection over the way the festival was being conducted and contended that a possible reboot would help bring back its mojo. 

Read on to find out what they had to say:

K V Sridhar, Global Chief Creative Officer, Nihilent & Hypercollective

Will miss the learning and networking. Above all, will miss the pride of winning for the country.

 As for the cancellation, it was expected. With the pandemic spreading, no one had ever expected the event to happen. A bit sad but unavoidable. Imagine Gutter Bar with Social Distancing.

Agnello Dias, Co-Founder, Taproot Dentsu and Creative Chairman, Dentsu Aegis Network

Of course there are those who will miss the Riviera and the show. 

But I feel those are lesser things to miss compared to what’s waiting for us in the next year. I think it was unavoidable but necessary. In any case it’s an opportunity for the global advertising fraternity to take a year off and work around things that need fixing in the award ecosystem. To start with, does it behove any industry to have so many award platforms that it becomes an ‘ecosystem’? The advertising creative award industry is bigger than the advertising industry in some markets. So it was definitely time to start some serious introspection in any case. This may just be the trigger. 

Tarun Rai, Chairman and Group CEO, Wunderman Thompson, South Asia

I will miss meeting so many people. Attending events. Having the time to do so. The buzz and the energy of the place. And yes, the Rose and the parties too!’

However, I think it is a sensible decision. Difficult, but sensible. And it is good that they took the decision early. It was clear that even in October the participation would have been thin. And an event like Cannes shouldn’t compromise on scale. Also, with so much business uncertainty around both clients and agencies it would be insensitive to carry on as normal. Right now all our energies should be focussed on partnering our clients through this very difficult time. 

Rohit Ohri, Group Chairman & CEO, FCB India

Oh, the calm blue sea at Cannes is a distant dream. 

Having said that, I think Cannes has made the right decision. All networks are mandating cost-control measures. Participation and entries at Cannes this year would have been very thin. My single-minded focus for 2020 will be to navigate the choppy post-Covid waters. 

Anand Bhadkamkar, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network

Cannes is a festival of celebration and creativity. We will definitely miss the networking, the showcase of our best work, exchange of new ideas and the learning it brings with it. Cannes has always been a big learning platform for the industry. We get acquainted with innovative work executed across networks, globally, which is always creatively enriching and fun.

That said, the cancellation right now is the most responsible thing to do as there is so much uncertainty around the entire COVID- 19 situation. Even the participation would have been affected, had it happened. So, both commercially and responsibly, it is the right thing to do.

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman and CCO, 82.5 Communications

The learning, the recognition and the camaraderie that Cannes has brought to the global creative community in good times is unparalleled. I have spent wonderful days on the French Riviera and will return to raise a toast after the world has healed. I am sure that once we are well and truly out of this crisis it will resume. 

Satbir Singh, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Thinkstr

I’ve always loved my time there. There’s some seriously good work to see. A few great sessions to attend. And to top it all, the parties in the evening. 

But cancelling Cannes Lions this year is a good step to take. There is too much pain and uncertainty in the world today. We are staring at a global recession. Across industries, there’s going to be massive job losses and pay cuts. The last thing on agencies’ and clients’ minds right now would be thinking of participating in awards shows, with entries and delegates. And Cannes costs a lot of money. If the Olympics can be pushed, Cannes can certainly be. 

Raj Kamble, Founder and CCO, Famous Innovations

From 2021, Cannes Lions should no longer be the domain of a few deep-pocketed network agencies. This is the right step for the Festival. When they had announced the delay of the festival to October, we found it insensitive that the award entry late fees were still applicable all the way up to June. A revered festival like Cannes Lions should stand for the industry and lead the industry in these kinds of times. We hope they see how the world is coming together as one community, how every organisation is making art accessible for all - be it museums, operas, musicians - and how people are putting people before commerce.

 When they reopen in 2021 I hope they will also emerge a changed, inclusive festival. This starts with reducing entry fees and attendance fees so that small independent agencies across the world can also enter, making the festival a truly global gathering rather than the domain of a few deep-pocketed independent agencies. I have seen the Awards game first-hand as a large network CCO and as an independent agency owner. To be able to make a dent, you need to enter work aggressively and in multiple categories. That is simply not possible for many independents and their work, their levels of motivation and their ability to attract talent suffer. Good ideas should not be victims of entry fees. 

 This unprecedented worldwide disaster marks a fundamental shift in the people's mindset and we all are realising the value of humanity and human connections. I hope a massive platform like Cannes Lions also adapts to nurture the same.

Garima Khandelwal, CCO, Mullen Lintas

Cannes bookmarks the iconic pieces of work of that year that get collectively applauded. There is an archive every year we look forward to and I guess work created and released in 2019 won't have that memory. For now, I will miss the abandon with which we met and shook hands with everyone from all countries. Until this becomes a distant memory and the next time we all meet at Cannes.  

I’m not surprised with the cancellation news at all. The repercussions of what we are all still living through is unfolding. A pandemic such as this will take time to heal and recover from, and I don’t think the world is in any mood to celebrate creativity or anything with a festival that needs the delegates from everywhere to travel to one place, it is a distant reality for now. While what happens to the Indian economy is yet to manifest, once we are on the other side of the lockdown, global economies will take time to fire-up and build momentum. What is happening right now is human kind’s biggest crisis. Advertising and creativity will go through a transition from how we remember it.

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