Cannes Ad Conference Cuts Fees as Publicis Skips 2018 Event

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  • Lions will run for 5 days in 2018 vs. 8 days this year
  • Fixed-price taxis, food, hotel-cost freeze also offered

Cannes Lions, which bills itself as a festival of creativity, will run for five days in 2018 from June 18, compared with eight days in 2017.

Photographer: Jean Christophe Magnenet/AFP via Getty Images

The world’s biggest and most expensive advertising conference just got a little shorter and a little cheaper.

A full pass to the French Riviera’s Cannes Lions awards next year will cost 3,249 euros ($3,790), about 22 percent less that this year’s event, organizer Ascential Plc said Monday. Cannes Lions, which bills itself as a festival of creativity, will run for five days in 2018 from June 18, compared with eight days in 2017.

The cuts come as Publicis Groupe SA, the world’s third-biggest ad company, decided to skip the 2018 event to invest money developing internal tools instead. Ad festivals, including Cannes, have become a bigger burden for brands and agencies as technology companies like Google and Facebook Inc. increasingly gobble up more of the world’s marketing spending. 

Publicis said Monday in response to the revamp of Cannes Lions that it won’t alter plans to skip next year’s event, but will renew its presence for the 2019 edition. Omnicom Group Inc., the world’s second-largest ad agency, said Tuesday in an emailed statement that Cannes Lions had sought input on the changes from Omnicom and many agencies.

“Cannes acknowledged that after 60 years it was time to hit the re-set button and that’s smart,” Omnicom said. “We applaud the steps the festival has taken.”

In June, Publicis’ new chief executive officer Arthur Sadoun decided to shift the company’s promotional budget away from industry events until next September. Cannes Lions attracts more than 15,000 people from about 100 countries and is considered the largest meeting of advertising professionals and marketers. Ad conferences are important for networking and for the chance to win awards that can promote work and boost careers.

To further soften the financial punch, Cannes Lions has also worked with the City of Cannes to create a suite of money-saving offers for delegates, including a fixed price of 80 euros for taxis to Nice Airport, a freeze on all hotel prices booked through official channels, fixed-price menus at more than 50 restaurants and free WiFi. More benefits will be announced during the year.

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