Cannes Lions advertising festival postponed until October due to coronavirus

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Delegates wait in line at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, Cannes, France, June 2019

Cannes Lions

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the ad industry’s major awards festival and conference held in France each summer, is postponing its June conference due to the coronavirus, organizers announced Wednessday.

The festival, originally scheduled for June 22 through 26, said it now plans to reschedule to October 26 through 30. Conference organizers said earlier that passes, sponsorship arrangements and bookings will roll over and remain valid. 

“The decision comes following much deliberation with our partners and customers, as well as, consultation with public health officials, the mayoral office of Cannes and the French Authorities,” the festival’s organizers said in an emailed statement. “… Although we have sound mitigation plans, we shall continue to monitor this situation carefully and continue to engage closely with our customers, as we start to work in collaboration to ensure we can recognize the world’s best creativity in 2020.” 

Last week, as the virus was spreading in countries like Italy (the border of which is about 40 miles from Cannes), conference organizers told attendees French authorities had advised a ban on gatherings over 1,000 people would be lifted on April 15. On Friday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the country was tightening restrictions on public gatherings by banning groups of more than 100 people, and earlier this week President Emmanuel Macron ordered the French to stay at home for at least the next 15 days.

The cancellation of the June event comes as countries take increasingly strict steps to curb spread of coronavirus, which as of Wednesday morning had infected more than 201,000 and killed more than 8,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Cannes Lions was scheduled to take place a month after the Cannes Film Festival. The film festival’s organizers said over the weekend they didn’t anticipate making a decision on whether to cancel until April, according to the Hollywood Reporter. 

But moving back to October will create some congestion for the ad industry’s important events. Advertising Week New York is scheduled to take place in early October, while the Association of National Advertisers’ “Masters of Marketing” conference, typically highly attended by brands’ top marketers, is scheduled for October 20 to 23 in Orlando, Florida. 

This year’s festival was expected to bring presentations from Amazon and Netflix for the first time, with sessions from Claudine Cheever, Global Head of Brand and Advertising at Amazon, and Jean Tanis, Global Marketing Creative Lead at Netflix. Other big names on the schedule include Microsoft’s Corporate VP of Brand, Advertising and Research Kathleen Hall, Molson Coors’ CMO Michelle St Jacques, Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard and Burger King’s global CMO Fernando Machado. 

Organizers said the festival’s awards would be given out during the new October dates, and the festival is planning to extend the deadline and eligibility date.  

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