Cannes Lions Roars, Albeit Remotely

·3-min read

Cannes Lions, the annual gathering for the advertising and marketing community, will take place online again this year, running June 21-25, but every effort is being made to make it as live an event as possible.

The show will be broadcast live every day, although the sessions will also be available on demand.

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There are “Daily Award Shows” hosted by Juan Señor in Cannes, during which the winner of each awards category will be revealed.

Five 90-minute shows will cover the 28 award categories. The Lions Awards did not take place last year so jurors have been assessing two years of creative output.

In addition, there will be one-hour specials, known as “The Debrief” sessions, on the awards with the jury president of each section hosting a deep dive into the work and chatting with winners. Plus, there’s a daily presentation and a wrap up, during which the day’s 10 Hot Stories will be picked out, and there will be a few surprises as well.

Added to that there will be live meet-ups and performances at the “Virtual Experience,” where visitors can explore the show — including spaces built by brands — with their avatars interacting with other guests.

These networking sessions, hosted by “industry heroes,” Cannes Lions says, have been “designed to ignite collaboration and inspire you to aim higher and push for better.” Visitors can catch headline talent for performances, keynote speeches and off-the-cuff Q&A sessions.

Lions Live, as the virtual version of the show is called, was launched in June 2020, when about 70,000 individuals registered from 145 countries. Another edition was held in October.

Access to Lions Live is free for those with annual membership, which costs €249 ($303).

The talent lined up to take part this year reflects the breadth of the areas that the Lions covers, and the crossover between its world and the showbiz universe. They include actor and Pilot Wave executive producer Gal Gadot; actor, director and Nine Muses Entertainment founder Bryce Dallas Howard; musician and president and chief strategy officer at Carnival World Music Group, Wyclef Jean; musician Ed Sheeran; and Formula One racing driver Fernando Alonso.

The range of media companies with executives speaking — such as Netflix, Twitter, Amazon, Google, Disney Plus, Facebook and YouTube — also points to the many areas of common interest.

One honoree that was already announced is Microsoft, which has been named Creative Marketer of the Year. The accolade is presented to an advertiser that has “amassed a body of creative and Lion-winning work over a sustained period of time, and has established a reputation for producing brave creative and innovative marketing solutions.” Although the event is mainly forward-looking there will be opportunities to reflect on the trials of the pandemic.

Philippa Brown, worldwide CEO at PHD, and the Media Lions jury president, says: “I’ve heard many people quote Dickens’ novel, ‘A Tale of Two Cities,’ ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ And you know what? It’s so true. Whilst the pandemic and lockdown have impacted teams’ spontaneous creative thinking, it has allowed for different ways to generate ideas and created a breeding ground for creativity.” As well as the pandemic, social movements such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter have rocked the world of advertising and marketing, and have shaken Cannes Lions itself.

In late May the org had to apologize and reaffirm its commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion in response to a furor sparked when Abraham Abbi Asefaw, chairman at LW in London, was dropped as dean of the Lions’ Roger Hatchuel Academy learning academy, leaving its leadership devoid of people of color.

In other ways, Cannes Lions has risen to the challenge in support of diversity and inclusion. In April, for example, it announced that for the first time ever a higher percentage of women, 52%, were represented on the shortlist juries.

The jurors were also geographically diverse, being drawn from 55 countries.

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