Raahil Chopra
Apr 5, 2020

Cannes cancelled: Reactions from adland

India's top agency leaders and marketers believe learnings will be missed, while some call for work to be celebrated with an online event

Cannes cancelled: Reactions from adland

Following news that the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity will not be held in 2020 in any form, Campaign India spoke with senior figures for their opinions about the move.

Amit Akali, managing partner and creative head at What’s Your Problem, believes that while the event couldn’t happen on-ground an online version could have helped:

There’s nothing more important than people and their health. But at the same time Cannes is a tribute and recognition of a whole year’s work. It also sets the trend for what’s happening in the world of advertising. With the festival being cancelled this learning will also be missed out on. I was hoping, in keeping with the changing world there could be an online version of the festival. At least the awards happening online would have given us the learning that Cannes give us and given the work the recognition it deserves. If someone can pull off an online festival and of scale and show the ad world a new path, it is Cannes.

S4 Capital’s country director for India, Poran Malani agrees with Akali about the possibility of an online version:

I think it’s the right move given the extraordinary circumstances we’re in. If it does persist longer than anticipated it could be an opportunity to move some of the awards online. I know as a group of people we like to meet and mingle but the sharing of best talent and work can still be done without the physical meet. Many of our clients are having to move from physical events to digital. Perhaps this could happen, in part, here too.

According to a senior marketer from a finance company who is a Cannes regular, and did not wish to be named, the organisers should use this break to reinvent the festival:

The world is going to change dramatically post this. It’s a great and God-sent opportunity for the organisers to re-think the festival and reinvent itself. In today’s world – what role does Cannes want to play is important to figure. They’ve been tinkering with the format and it’s neither here nor there right now. As a brand champion would advise his brand or client on how to reinvent itself with changing time and schedule – Cannes needs to do that to. The organisers should use this one year to look forward to a fresh and relevant Cannes in 2021.

Ashish Bhasin, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network Asia Pacific and Govind Pandey, CEO, TBWA\ India, gave the organisers the thumbs up too. Bhasin said it’s the right decision given the current circumstances while Pandey believed it was bound to happen as no agency is in a position to participate for the festival this year.

Satbir Singh, founder, Thinkstr, echoes Bhasin and Pandey’s views:

There is too much pain and uncertainty in the world today. We are starting at a global recession. Across industries, there’s going to be massive job losses and pay cuts. The last thing on agencies’ and clients’ minds right now would be thinking of participating in awards shows, with entries and delegates. And Cannes costs a lot of money. If Olympics can be pushed, Cannes can certainly be. It is the best thing to do.

Ketan Desai, COO, Grey Group, adds:

Not holding an advertising festival isn’t going to stop creativity. This is the time to use the money we spend on helping our local communities, not burden our staff with paycuts or layoffs. Time to be more creative for our clients. Awards will come, if not in 2020, then 2021.

Raj Kamble, founder and CCO, Famous Innovations, was a tad bit disappointed with the organisers, who were still increasing the entry fee for late award entries despite the uncertainty and the event being postponed to October. He suggests next year’s award entry fees be reduced:

When the first news came from Cannes of the postponement, they still asked for the late entry fees. I thought it was unfair and insensitive.... I have been attending Cannes for the last 15 years and also learnt a lot. I was hoping and wanting the organisers to stand up and do something rather than call for entries. It’s not the time to do business. They have to keep this in mind and reduce fees for next year hopefully. We have huge expectations from Cannes. I’m not happy that it is cancelled this year, but it’s the right thing to do.

Kawal Shoor, co-founder, The Womb, states that he will miss the learning bit of the festival, but is more concerned with the Indian Premier League likely to not take place:

Personally, I am more taken in by the IPL likely to not happen. Clients, their launches, big work that agencies had lined up… all will take a back seat. Wimbledon will also be missed. Cannes is a little incestuous party in comparison that happens within the industry and a bit beyond. What I’ll miss though is the learning side of it. But, there are larger things to tackle at this stage.

Campaign India

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