Cannes Lions cancelled for 2020

Organizers decided to hold off after cost-conscious hold cos debated skipping the festival, which was already postponed to October.

Cannes Lions organizers have cancelled the 2020 International Festival of Creativity. The next Cannes Lions will be held from June 21 to 25, 2021.

A Cannes Lions spokesperson confirmed that next year’s awards will have a two-year eligibility period, and all entries received so far for 2020 will be judged next year. Any would-be delegate that has already purchased a pass will be provided with a credit to be applied towards next year’s festival.

Last month, organizers made the decision to postpone the festival in response to COVID-19, moving it from its regular week in June to its contingency dates of Oct. 26 to 31. But in today’s announcement, organizers said the decision to cancel the event outright came after “in-depth consultations with [their] partners and customers” about the “societal, health and economic challenges facing the world.” Those conversations showed that most agencies and companies that typically attend Cannes Lions are now more focused on looking after their people, clients and their own business.

It also became clear that many agency holding groups were looking to save costs for when client business is expected to take a hit.

Earlier this week, WPP announced a number of cost-cutting measures it would institute to help insulate from the long-term impact the pandemic is expected to have on client business and the global economy – one of which was “stopping discretionary costs, including travel and hotels and the costs of awards shows.” Other major holding companies have not made any public statement about plans for Cannes Lions or any other awards programs, but Campaign reported on Thursday that sources at Omnicom had decided its agencies would not attend Cannes Lions, while IPG was telling its agencies to not devote any resources to Cannes “for the time being,” and would re-evaluate its position in September.

“We realize that the creative community has other challenges to face, and simply isn’t in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark,” Philip Thomas, chairman of Cannes Lions, said in a statement. “The marketing and creative industries, in common with so many others, are currently in turmoil, and it’s clear that we can play our small part by removing all speculation about the festival this year.”