Entries for the 2017 Cannes Lions are down about 4.5% compared to last year despite a surge of entries by clients, which submitted 69% more work than 2016.
Agencies continue to be the festival's largest group of entering companies, said a Cannes Lions spokeswoman via email.
"Consultants are beginning to enter in small numbers, and we expect this group to grow in the future. Media owners and production companies continue to show steady growth," she added.
Overall, Cannes received 41,170 entries across the 24 Lions categories. Last year, the festival saw 43,101 submissions, a record year with a 7% bump in entries. Entries from the U.S. dropped a bit too, going from 9,702 in 2016 to 9,534 this year.
"It's true that on one level, entry numbers mirror the ebb and flow of the wider creative industries. But this is just one element of a very complex picture," said the Cannes spokeswoman. "Don't forget also that entries were up by an unusually large 7.5% last year so, the trends are still very positive on a longer-term view."
She said this was the first year since 2007 that the festival didn't launch any new Lions in response to feedback from customers and to help those entering find the best place to submit their work.
The Creative Effectiveness category, which is the only global Lion that connects creative work and business results, saw a 59% rise year-on-year.
Also up, by 31%, are entries for a Glass Lion, a category launched in 2015 to recognize outstanding efforts challenging gender biases – a topic that reigned over Cannes last year and will likely have a strong presence again. All entry fees for Glass are donated to organizations fighting gender inequality worldwide, and from its debut to now, the category has raised more than $324,000.
With holding companies and agencies being more frugal on their Cannes spend this year, the question on everyone's mind is whether or not the number of attendees and paying delegates will be down, but it's too soon to tell.
While Cannes didn't break out the amount of money it received from entries this year, Ad Age calculated the possible range based on the highest and lowest category fee for regular entry dates and the latest entry date. For the regular entry fee date, the festival could have made between $21.9 million and $66.1 million. If everyone submitted on the latest date, the range could be from $30.2 million to $74.4 million. (This does not subtract whatever amount will be donated this year from Glass Lions submissions).
According to a previous Ad Age report, Ascential, the public company behind the festival, said revenue increased 18% on a currency-adjusted basis last year to $72 million (up 30% in nominal terms). Ascential will publish its interim financial results in July, according to a Cannes spokeswoman.