The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity (formerly the International Advertising Festival) is a global event for those working in advertising and related fields. The seven-day festival, incorporating the awarding of the Lions awards, is held yearly at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in Cannes, France. In 2011, it ran from 19–25 June and it is due to take place from 17 to 23 June in 2012.
Often called the world’s biggest ad festival the annual event commonly attracts thousands of delegates from around the world attend the festival to view shortlisted work, attend seminars, workshops and master classes, and – according to WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell – “to get away a little bit from the hurly burly” and have “fun”.The week’s activities include four award ceremonies as well as an opening and closing gala.
And old lion…
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is considered the largest gathering of worldwide advertising professionals, designers, digital innovators and marketers.Every year in June, around 9,000 registered delegates from 90 countries visit the Festival, to celebrate the best of creativity in brand communication, discuss industry issues and network with one another.
Thousands of ads from all over the world are showcased and judged. In 2011, a record 28,282 entries were received, after two years of declining entries following the global economic crisis.
Inspired by the International Film Festival, staged in Cannes since the late 1940s, a group of cinema screen advertising contractors belonging to the Screen Advertising World Association (Sawa) felt the makers of advertising films should be similarly recognised. They established the International Advertising Film Festival, the first of which took place in Venice, Italy, in September 1954, with 187 film entries from 14 countries. The lion of the Piazza San Marco in Venice was the inspiration for the Lion trophy.
The second festival was held in Monte Carlo, and the third in Cannes. After that, the event alternated between Venice and Cannes before settling in the latter in 1984. New categories have been awards in recent years: the Press & Outdoor Lions competition in 1992; the Cyber Lions in 1998; Media Lions in 1999; Direct Lions in 2002; Radio, and Titanium Lions in 2005; Promo Lions in 2006; Design Lions in 2008; PR Lions in 2009; Film Craft in 2010; and Creative Effectiveness in 2011. However, in recent years there have been calls from within the industry for the Festival to simply the entry categories to better reflect the current state of the modern communications world.
In the 1990s, the Festival also added a programme of learning in the form of seminars and workshops.Over the years, this side of the Festival has grown considerably and, in 2011 featured nearly 90 sessions over 7 days. These included talks from will.i.am, Patti Smith, James Murdoch, Facebook’s Carolyn Everson, Piers Morgan, Aaron Sorkin, David Simon and Eric Schmidt.
In 2004, British publisher and conference organiser EMAP plc purchased the festival from French businessman Roger Hatchuel – who had started managing it in 1987 – for a reported £52 million.
Cannes Lions juries are drawn from experts in each field from around the world. Each jury is headed by a jury president. They judge submissions in Film, Film Craft, Media, Press, Outdoor, Cyber, Promo & Activation, Direct, Design, Radio, PR, Creative Effectiveness and Titanium and Integrated.
Other awards include Holding Company of the Year, Network of the Year, Direct Agency of the Year, Media Agency of the Year, Agency of the Year, Independent Agency of the Year, Media Person of the Year, Advertiser of the Year and the Palme d’Or to the best production company.
Advertisements are generally entered by the agencies that created them, although technically anyone can enter any advertising creation, providing it ran within a specified time frame. The jurors are instructed to reward advertising that is deemed most creative both in idea and execution.
In an article in the Guardian in 2009 WPP boss Sir Martin Sorrell said the Cannes Lions awards were too costly to enter.However, a year later, he also admitted that he had made sure that WPP was “very, very focused on Cannes” and wanted to be “the leader in terms of awards at Cannes”. In 2011, WPP won the first Holding Company of the Year prize at the Festival. Commenting on this industry recognition, WPP Worldwide Creative Director, John O’Keeffe, said:
“Cannes is the only global, cross discipline show, covering advertising, design, digital, media, promo, effectiveness, and everything else besides. It doesn’t aggregate the scores of other shows, so you can’t inflate your ranking on the back of just one or two pieces of work. If you are number one at Cannes, you’ve done it the hard way, the proper way, the only way.”
However, recently there have also been suggestions that Cannes Lions should reduce the number of entry sections to better reflect the current state of the industry.