Cannes Lions

Omnicom upsets WPP's 7-year run as Cannes Lions holding company of the year

By Published on .

Omnicom took the top holding company prize.
Omnicom took the top holding company prize. Credit: Cannes Lions

Omnicom took the top holding company prize at the 65th Cannes Lions International Festival at the final awards ceremony Friday night, unseating WPP, which has earned the honor since it was introduced in 2011.

Omnicom had an impressive showing at this year's festival, bolstered in part by the success of Apple, a marketer that previously had lain low from events like Cannes, but had a big presence this year, with top execs Angela Ahrendts and Tor Myrhen appearing on the main stage. TBWA/MAL helped to create much of the company's winning work. For Apple's "Welcome Home" short film directed by Spike Jonze and starring FKA Twigs, it earned six honors, including a Grand Prix and multiple Golds in Film and Film Craft. The agency also created the Gold Lion-winning "Welcome to @Apple," campaign, which marked Apple's debut on Instagram. In total, the agency earned 16 Lions, all on work for the brand.

BBDO contributed significantly as well, with spots like Libresse's "Blood Normal" from AMVBBDO London and "The Talk" from P&G and BBDO New York also earning Grand Prix.

WPP took second place in 2018 while IPG ranked third.

The long-reigning WPP had a tumultuous year. Its stock price suffered the worst drop since 1999 in March after former CEO Martin Sorrell predicted a year of no growth and slashed its profit outlook. (The company did report better-than-expected results in the first quarter.) Sorrell departed the holding company in April following an internal investigation, which reportedly looked into whether he used company funds for a prostitute. Since then, questions have lingered over whether WPP will offload assets, and major clients including Ford's creative business and HSBC's media account have gone up for review—with that last one heading to Omnicom-owned PHD following a review.

BBDO won Network of the Year.
BBDO won Network of the Year. Credit: Cannes Lions

As for other big winners, BBDO earned its seventh Network of the Year honor, Ogilvy was second while DDB Worldwide ranked third.

London shops ranked favorably this year, with Agency of the Year going to Adam & Eve DDB London and AMV BBDO placing second. BBDO New York was in third place.

Jung Von Matt Hamburg was this year's top independent shop—earning the honor for the second time since 2010, when the award was introduced to the festival.. Droga5 New York placed second while Wieden & Kennedy London ranked third.

MJZ, the company behind the Apple's "Welcome Home" ad, among other spots, earned the Palme d'Or for the ninth time. The honor goes to the most awarded production shop. Revolver/Will O'Rourke Australia placed second and The Corner Shop London was third.

There was one category, however, where a WPP agency reigned supreme: Media Network of the Year.

GroupM's MediaCom took top honors for media networks at Cannes, with work for Tesco in the U.K. winning the Grand Prix for "Excellence in Media Planning" for a campaign called "Food Love Stories," which the agency says was the retailer's most effective campaign ever. MediaCom worked with BBH London on the campaign with ITV Creative, Global Radio, Facebook and JCDecaux, according to a statement.

MediaCom Israel also won three Lions for its work with Prcter & Gamble's Gillette — including for a campaign called "Babyface," which encouraged new dads to form physical bonds with their kids by shaving their scratchy beards.

Most Popular