Ben Bold
Mar 23, 2020

Can Cannes Lions work in October?

Ad festival has been postponed until October.

Can Cannes Lions work in October?

It's official. This year's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity has been put on ice – that's more than what can be said for the rosé, which will have to languish longer in the cellar. Last week, the news broke that organiser Ascential has moved the event from 22-26 June to 26-30 October – another casualty to Covid-19.

Clearly, a postponement is preferable to an outright cancellation. Festival sponsors and those who have bought tickets will not have wasted their collective millions. But a four-month shift will undoubtedly change things.

The most obvious change is climatic: October is not as balmy as June, which averages highs of 25 degrees. Average high temperatures on the French Riviera in October are nearer 21 degrees, with an average low of 12.3.

Given a lower ambient temperature, the chilling of rosé will require less energy. On the basis that innumerable bottles are consumed, this could have a positive environmental impact.

Sunset in October is at around 5.30pm, the clocks having jumping back an hour on 25 October. Compared with a sunset of around 9.15pm in June, that’s nearly four hours less of evening sun. So more hours of a darkened La Croisette. Could this lessen the blow of the night before or lead to more nefarious behaviour?

Event fatigue is something to consider, given that so many cancelled conferences and festivals are being rescheduled for September and October. So it might be wise for organisers to rethink many of Cannes' defining characteristics.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Some in the industry feel that the event has become as stale as a day-old blini. So a refresh to tired formats could be on the cards.

Global consciousness is changing, too, as a result of coronavirus – in many respects for the better. Will this lead to a more empathetic, ethically nuanced take on the advertising that scoops the golds and Grands Prix?

It's worth noting, and it has become something of a cliché, that in China the word for crisis also carries the meaning opportunity. Of course, it’s going to be markedly different – but can Cannes work in October?

Eduardo Maruri, president and chief executive, Europe, Grey; jury president, Sustainable Development Goals, Cannes Lions

Of course, a Lions Festival at Halloween will have another taste than a festival starting the summer holiday season. But I think it is an opportunity for the industry to focus on what the festival is about: the work and bringing people together to discuss issues and opportunities.

And, yes, we might have less sun (juries are in a room all day, so it won’t be an issue for them anyway), rosé and yachts, but at the end of the day it might help the industry and the Lions focus on what really matters the most: creativity.

Vicki Maguire, chief creative officer, Havas London

Sitting here in not-so-splendid isolation, the thought of strolling along the Croisette, breathing in the sea air and enjoying the company of so many lively people is very appealing indeed. Yes, Cannes in October would be a change, but we are all having to get used to change, whether we like it or not, and it would be a great chance for the creative community to come together and support each other – budgets permitting.

There have long been calls for Cannes to scale back and it will be interesting to see if, and how, this will finally force the issue. They could always host a joint festival with Oktoberfest, as budgets are more beer than wine these days. As a plus, I’ll feel more efficient in the cooler weather, and without those long hot nights of al fresco eating, drinking and then schlepping up and down that bloody road, we might all feel a lot healthier at the end of the week than we normally do.

Rob Doubal, chief creative officer and co-president, McCann UK

Sure it can. As the world responds to Covid-19, it’s very tough to write or predict anything which doesn’t have a high risk of boomerang. But one thing seems to be true of businesses through tough times. Cannes Lions – or anything, for that matter, that survives or works at a later date – rests on the people within those businesses remembering why they do what they do, so that when things change profoundly, they will still be able to do it.

Cannes has always existed to celebrate and interrogate the best of creativity. There will be many people and businesses looking forward to discussing and awarding creative work in the new world context. where it, and the companies who make it, will hold even more value, as exceptional examples of creativity but also innovation and agility.

Ed Couchman, general manager, UK, Snapchat

Cannes is all about celebrating creativity and this tricky time shows us just how important it is to take a creative approach to tackling the business and societal challenges we are all facing.

Of course Cannes can work in October – once we get through this, we should be celebrating more than ever before. We have all benefited from the support that Cannes Lions has given to the advertising industry over the years. Now it is time for the industry to get out and support Cannes Lions, regardless of the season. While I probably will be forgoing my linen suit and loafers in favour of more suitable autumn attire, you will certainly be seeing me on La Croisette this October.

Campaign UK

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