Cannes Lions to launch committee in response to festival criticism

Cannes Lions is to launch an advisory committee "to help shape the future of the festival" in response to criticism that the festival has got too big and lost its creative heart.

Ascential, the owner of Cannes Lions, said it wanted to "ensure it continues to respond to the needs of the industry" after Publicis Groupe shocked the festival organisers earlier this week by saying it was pulling out of next year’s event.

Other ad agency groups, including WPP, have been critical of Cannes Lions and it looks significant that the festival has first asked a number of top brands to join the committee.

Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer of Unilever; Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer of Procter & Gamble; Fernando Machado, head of brand marketing at Burger King; Fiona Carter, chief brand officer, AT&T; and Jan Derck van Karnebeek, chief commercial officer at Heineken, have given "commitments" to be involved.

Pritchard said: "We attend Cannes Lions to focus on creativity to drive growth. It's the right time to step back and take a look at the best way forward for Cannes Lions to provide the best possible platform for creativity in our industry, and P&G is ready and willing to help."

More members will "be announced soon", including major advertisers, partners, agency networks and the Mayor of Cannes, and the first meeting is planned for shortly after this year’s event finishes this weekend.

Ascential said the committee will be a platform for stakeholders in the event to share their views and recommendations around all aspects of the Cannes Lions experience.

Philip Thomas, chief executive of Ascential Events, said: "As well as clients who have offered to help shape the future of the festival, we will – as usual – consult with all global creative leaders, heads of holding companies and other major partners.

"There have been a lot of discussions this week about the structure of the Festival, and we want to create the right Cannes Lions experience for all participants. The thing that unites them all is their belief in creativity as a powerful force in the world, and this is at the heart of everything we do."

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