When most people think of the word “Cannes” and the word “Festival” together, their first instinct tend to gravitate towards the Cannes Film Festival that takes place each year around May. We even did an exploration last month of this world famous festival and its historical significance in the film and entertainment industry. Cannes, however, is a beautiful locale and along with Venice, is the host to another, equally significant annual festival with an almost equally long history. Today, we will do an exploration on the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Typically referred to as simply the “Cannes Lions”, this annual festival for about 10,000 people a year is one of the world’s most prominent gatherings of creative professionals. The festival had its inaugural event in 1954 in Venice, and at the time was called the International Advertising Film Festival. For the first three decades, the event took place in either Venice or Cannes in any given year, until Cannes became the official destination for the event in 1984 and earned the festival its current name of “The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity”.
The initial inspiration for this Cannes Lions festival was with the ubiquity of television in the 50’s and its subsequent effect on creating the “Golden Era of Advertising”. Ever see Mad Men? They were the first generation of advertising professionals to be able to seriously pursue the art of television commercials. This led to the advertising industry to take inspiration from the Cannes Film Festival and create their own annual festival to recognize achievements and innovations in “advertising films”.
From the 80s and beyond and for all the foreseeable future going forward, the terms “advertising” and “marketing” blend increasingly into other forms of design, art, and creativity. Along with these blurring lines came the expansion of the attendance of the Cannes Lions Festival. Today, the Cannes Lions Festival is a gathering of marketers and creatives of all fields and industries, ranging from advertising agencies, to brand marketers, to digital designers and innovators.
The Festival itself is programmed similarly to the Cannes Film Festival and most other industry festivals. There is an awards component consisting of an organized submissions and nominations process, and there is a conferencing component consisting of panels and speeches delivered by industry influencers.
The Lions Awards recognizes — as most industry festivals do — a wide range of categories within marketing innovation. There is an award for Film, for Film Craft, Media, Press, Outdoor, Cyber, Promo & Activation, Titanium and Integrated, Innovation, Company of the Year, Network of the Year, Agency of the Year, Independent Agency of the Year, Media Agency of the Year, Media Person of the Year, Advertiser of the Year, and Best Production Company. Just like the film industry, there are actually just a handful of giant agencies that dominate the scene in the advertising world, and these agencies like WPP and Publicis spend top dollar submitting and campaigning each year in effort to win the most awards at this event.
See you at the next exploration!