Cannes Lions gets an overhaul, Publicis confirms 2019 return to Festival

Tyrone Stewart

Cannes LionsCannes Lions, the festival which awards the best in creative communications and advertising, has been criticised over the last few years for losing its direction, and has seen many major companies either send far less people or pull out of the event entirely. With that, Ascential – the company behind the event – has decided to restructure, and has gained support for its decision from Publicis Groupe.

Earlier this year, Publicis decided to remove itself from all festivals, awards, and industry events in order to save money to help build its AI technology – the wonderfully named ‘Marcel’. At the time, it said it would resume its participation at events in September 2018, and it has reaffirmed this by confirming it will return to Cannes Lions in 2019.

“Ascential’s decision to re-centre the Cannes Lions’ focus around creativity is commendable, and Publicis Groupe is looking forward to attending the Festival in 2019,” said Arthur Sadoun, chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe. “We are pleased that our decision to refocus our investments for 12 months in order to create the platform of the future has inspired a larger discussion in the industry, leading to what are clearly some positive changes. Publicis Groupe has always been a driving force for innovation, and we remain strongly focused on and committed to creative excellence.”

The restructuring of the Festival will now see it run for five days, and will now also be organised into nine core tracks to help attendees navigate the Festival and find the content they are interested in more easily.

It will see the introduction of a more simplified awards structure – which has seen 120 Lions sub-categories removed. Furthermore, each piece of work can now only be entered into a maximum of six awards categories, while charity and NGO work will be presented separately from brand-led work.

“This is an especially important launch for us,” said Phil Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events. “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. We have held lengthy discussions in order to curate an updated Festival that puts the creative content back at the heart of Cannes Lions.”