"It's definitely an area we are thinking about and will endeavor to implement, but we haven't committed to a date," said Mr. Hatchuel from his London office Nov. 14. It won't be as early as 2004, he said.
The 50-year-old festival started as a cinema and TV-advertising awards show held alternate years in Cannes and Venice, but has changed enormously over the last decade. Film entries still provide much of the festival's glitz and suspense but represent a smaller proportion of total entries every year. The press and poster contest, introduced in 1992, drew 8,669 entries this year, more than half of the festival's total 16,392 entries for 2003 and almost twice as many as the 4,577 film entries submitted.
In 1998, Mr. Hatchuel added Cyber Lions for interactive ads and Web sites, followed by Media Lions in 1999 and Lions Direct for direct marketing in 2002. Now PR is the missing piece. For each new contest he adds, Mr. Hatchuel consults and enlists the support of a core group of key executives in that area, especially from the U.S. They enter work, sponsor on-site seminars and chair or serve on the new jury.
"We are consulting, we are listening, we are synthesizing, and then we are moving" on PR, he said.
New contests are the festival's engine for growth. This year, film entries plummeted by 9.5% and press and outdoor entries dropped by 4.5% as agencies contained costs, but Media Lions entries grew by 9%. And Lions Direct, in its second year, has already surpassed the media contest in size with a total of 1,123 entries compared to 779 for media. Each new contest adds hundreds of delegates who attend the festival in the south of France for the first time.
"There's an evolution in how we think about marketing, and [PR] is another powerful way to reach consumers," said Bryan McCleary, associate director-external relations for P&G oral care. Even so, P&G is reluctant to enter PR awards because it considers many of its strategies to be competitive advantages, he said.
Richard Edelman, president-CEO of independent PR agency Edelman, said: "PR should be included in the Cannes Lions awards because today's great brands and reputations-Microsoft, Starbucks, iPod, Xbox or Amazon-are created through a combination of disciplines with public relations often taking the lead. It's time the world's most prestigious awards recognizes this reality."