International Advertising Awards - Rivalry in Cannes: Lions vs. the Cup

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ads will compete with goals on the French Riviera this week as many of the 7,000 attendees at the International Advertising Festival divide their attention between the annual Cannes Lions hunt and the World Cup.

Total entries are down to 17,251, from 19,013, even including the 1,063 entries for the new direct-marketing awards, originally scheduled as a separate three-day event after the weeklong festival starting today. But a drop in attendance for the main festival and concerns that few people would turn up for the later direct-marketing event prompted a last-minute schedule change and Lions Direct and the Cyber Lions will now be awarded June 21.

"The buzz is that Cannes is going to be kind of a downer," said Marcio Moreira, vice chairman-chief creative officer of Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson World Group. "Everyone's having to make numbers and the industry is in the doldrums."


Of course, last year's festival was also widely forecast to be a somber event and ended up as a riotous escape from recession in the U.S.

And the World Cup will loom large. Some Brazilians are even delaying their arrival to avoid flying during an early week Brazil game.

Although American attendees may largely ignore the World Cup, much of the rest of the world is already at fever pitch. In London, many ad agencies closed when England played-and beat-Argentina on June 7 and lured staffers in with breakfast to watch the England-Nigeria match that started at 7:30 a.m. on June 12. "People figure a world record will be set for the number of people in advertising agencies by 7:30 a.m.," said David Kershaw, a partner at M&C Saatchi, where all the games are projected on a big screen in the lobby.

Although Cannes parties are still scheduled-three agencies are holding evening parties June 21 alone, ending with the annual late-night DDB bash on the beach in front of the Martinez hotel-the festival is likely to be less lavish than usual. Some networks, including WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson Co., are going ahead with creative directors' meetings, and Bcom3 Group's D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles is holding a board meeting at the Carlton hotel. Other agencies are still sending staffers but say they aren't officially "doing" Cannes in 2002.

Last year, the festival's controversial issue was the pervasiveness of scam ads (AA, June 11) and the crackdown by jury President Bob Isherwood, worldwide creative director at Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, as he rigorously investigated suspect ads and disqualified several near-winners. It's unclear whether this year's president, Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of Omnicom Groupe's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners-one of the few Cannes jury presidents ever who doesn't come from an international network-will confront the same issue.

One of this year's hottest award winners at other festivals, work for BMW films from Publicis' Fallon Worldwide, isn't eligible for Cannes' film category, which limits entries to three minutes. But BMW, which won the Grand Prix at the One Show in New York last month, is entered in both the Cyber and Media Lions competitions.

Even if the festival is less lavish this year, there should be at least one ad-agency yacht in Cannes harbor, where London's hottest startup, 11-month-old Clemmow Hornby Inge, is planning a couple of weekend cocktail parties, though not while England plays in the World Cup on June 22. Founder Johnny Hornby said incredulously that one large prospective client had tried to schedule a meeting during one of England's World Cup games.

"I don't want a client who doesn't watch football," Mr. Hornby said. "Some things are more important than business."

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