Cannes Lions cancels 2020 awards and festival

The festival’s organiser says that, with the industry “in turmoil” due to the coronavirus pandemic, it has made the decision to cancel this year’s event altogether.

Cannes LionsCannes Lions has cancelled both its awards and festival for 2020, saying it would not be right to run the event with the industry “in turmoil”.

Cannes Lions was originally due to go ahead in mid-June but its organiser, Ascential, postponed it until late October amid the Covid-19 outbreak. It has now taken the decision to cancel, with Cannes Lions set to return from 21 to 25 June 2021.

The move comes after a number of agency holding groups expressed doubt over their attendance and ability to enter the awards this year. Their businesses are taking a hit as brands pull or postpone campaigns amid the pandemic. Earlier this week, WPP said it planned to cut costs this year by halting award entries, as well as stopping international travel, and others have said similar.

Cannes Lions chairman Philip Thomas says: “Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions. We realise 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.

“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.”

A number of ad industry events have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with SXSW cancelled, Advertising Week Europe pushed back to September and events including the Adobe Summit and Facebook F8 moving online.

Cannes Lions is, however, the first major event postponed to later in the year to be cancelled. It reflects the huge pressure businesses are under, as well as the uncertainty over when things might get back to a semblance of normality.

Marketing Week’s parent company Xeim runs the Festival of Marketing, which is still set to take place on 7 to 8 October at Tobacco Dock in London.

Cannes Lions managing director Simon Cook says: “We all look ahead to a more positive time – right now, Cannes Lions will continue to bring the global creative community together and provide inspiration where we can find it.

“We believe firmly that the Lions continue to offer valuable recognition to that community and we look forward to celebrating and honouring the work in 2021, when the world will hopefully feel more stable, and our community can give their work the focus it deserves.”



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