Cannes has long been known as the top European destination for celebrities - but it’s not just for film stars. Each year, the best of media, marketing and advertising industries take over the city for five days.
Yes, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has begun.
Back in 1954, as a consequence of the Cannes Film Festival’s impact, a group of film advertising contractors started their own awards event, driven by the need for recognition that the industry felt at that time, while in the shadows of the flashy film industry.
Originally titled “International Advertising Film Festival,” Cannes Lions hopped between Venice, Monte Carlo and Cannes, before making the latter its permanent address in 1984.
Since the early 1990’s the festival has been trying to keep up with the high metabolism of the advertising industry, not just by increasing the number of prizes and competition categories, but also scaling up the scope of their conferences and seminars with an ever-increasing and diverse panel of experts ranging from healthcare to sustainability or innovation fields.
Known in the industry as the the ‘Oscars of advertising,’ the coveted golden lion prize is something that every creative wants to add to their portfolio; but in the meantime, the festival has become more and more popular for providing media professionals and talent with sweet opportunities to network and keep their creative juices flowing. For many, the week-long experience of the festival is considered as important - if not more - than the awards.
The Cannes Lions Festival, as we know it today, has put Cannes on the annual agenda of tech companies, media outlets, advertising consultancies, influencers and brands as the “Be there or be square” location.
By 2018, the festival registered over 16,000 attendees, 1,000 speakers and 4,700 companies. Among those companies were 22 of the world’s 25 biggest brands ranked by marketing expenditures and budget. However, competition-wise, the event saw the total number of competition entries go south to 32,372 compared to over 40,000 the year before.
Philip Thomas, CEO of Ascential Events (the parent company of the festival), addressed that fact commenting: “Last year we made the decision to press the reset button on Cannes Lions. We closed three big Lion awards, and removed and combined many sub-categories. We did it knowing that this would mean a smaller volume of entries, but it was the right decision for the long term.”
On the bright side, the volume of work submitted by brands and media owners raised around 84% and 59%, respectively, in 2018.
For the 2019 edition, taking place from 17-21 June, there will be five days of industry insights, meetings and inspirational talks from are more than 600 first-class speakers like Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, actors Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum and hundreds of marketing and creative directors from the top companies in the world. And, obviously, everyone is anxious to see who will be awarded as creative minds of the year with 27 possible statues.