Raahil Chopra
Apr 5, 2021

Cannes or cannot? Indian adland split on Cannes 2021 attendance

Some ad folks believe postponing Cannes Lions 2021 to a later date in the year would have made more sense, while others think it would mess up the schedule

Cannes or cannot? Indian adland split on Cannes 2021 attendance
After announcing plans for an on-ground festival in January, the organisers of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, through a blog post last week, announced that they will go ahead with a physical event. However, the festival will be digital-first this year.
The blog post revealed the organisers’ hope in bringing the industry together, at least partly, in Cannes. 
A couple of days after this announcement, the French Government announced a four-week 'light lockdown' due to a surge in the number of patients requiring an ICU.
The organisers of the Cannes Film Festival have pushed the event to 6-17 July, to continue with plans for a physical event. This is usually held in May and brings together imminent members of film industries from around the world.
The Lions will continue with its announced dates in June, though. 
Campaign India reached out to Indian adland’s Cannes regulars to figure if they’re comfortable attending the event in person, and if they believe the organisers should have pushed the event by a couple of months to ensure more attendees.
Rana Barua, group chief executive officer, Havas Group India, says that they will be supporting the Festival of Creativity, and participating virtually, because of the pandemic. "Cannes Lions remains the Mecca of creativity for us as a group, and we are participating in all aspects from jury presence to showcasing our work and sending entries from across the network globally."
Ashish Khazanchi, managing partner, Enormous Brands, will also be giving the on-ground event a miss this year. He says, “I'd still bide my time. Next year, I'm sure one will be way more relaxed and more engaged in the festival than worrying about the pandemic, and where to sit and what to eat. The festival is for meeting terrific minds and forming new connections, and imbibing creativity and the best practices at the very source. I think a lot of it would be impeded at least this year."
Kainaz Karmakar, chief creative officer, Ogilvy India, says that while she wants to attend the event, there are many things one needs to consider before taking that flight to the South of France. “I want to jump and say yes, but there are many things to consider. This includes financial compulsions, the state of vaccination, and the current virus situation. I would prefer to decide closer to the date,” she said. 
Rajdeepak Das, chief creative officer and CEO, South Asia, Leo Burnett, and Raj Kamble, founder and chief executive officer, Famous Innovations, share similar views. Both believe that the pandemic is here to stay but as long as safety protocols are in place, they should be on their way to Cannes this year.
Das says, “I would be ready to travel if I get vaccinated by then. It's high time. The pandemic is a new reality, and Covid is here to stay for the foreseeable future. For years to come, it will pop in in different parts of the world time and again. Maybe in small pockets, but it will. We need to live the new reality in the hybrid model and adapt.”
Kamble adds, “Being cooped up all year has affected everyone's creativity. We need that shot of inspiration, camaraderie, and even jealousy that Cannes always brings. If they maintain proper protocols and reduce the number of people packed together, I would definitely attend. What they should reconsider, though, is the entry fee and the attendance fee. After the way the year has gone for the industry, if industry awards don't act with empathy, it'll make the relationship too commercial – something that even Cannes Lions would not want.”
The duo's views are echoed by Sambit Mohanty, head ­– creative, McCann South.
"If travel restrictions are lifted and one is vaccinated, travelling shouldn't be a problem," he says.
While Das and Kamble believe postponing is not an option, Karmakar and Mohanty believe that it could be a way the organisers attract more crowds.
“It would be terrific if they can postpone it by a few months; it would be good for Indian agencies. It would also give more people a chance to get vaccinated and also for the money situation to stabilise. Organisations are under financial pressure and the decision to travel is not just a health decision,” says Karmakar.
Mohanty adds, "Considering the resurgence of Covid the world over, it'd have been ideal to postpone the event to a later date this year."
About pushing the festival, Khazanchi concludes, "Having the festival later this year would've messed up the calendars for the next year, too, when I'm sure the festival would be back in near-perfect glory. The hindrance this year is only to do with physical participation. The awards and some of the talks can still happen, partly online and for those who don't mind travelling, in a physical sense as well.”
Campaign India

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