The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity is moving forward as planned for now, despite amplifying concerns around the coronavirus outbreak.
However, two people close to the business say the 2020 festival does have a contingency plan to reschedule for sometime in October should the festival be forced to postpone the five-day event slated currently for June 22 to 26. Organizers will likely make the ultimate decision to either carry on or postpone within the coming few weeks, says one.
Officially, Cannes Lions said in a statement to Ad Age: "Cannes Lions will take place as scheduled. Our thoughts are with all those affected by COVID-19 around the world. Our priority at this time is the safety of our delegates and teams – we continue to closely monitor the development of the COVID-19/Coronavirus and any potential impact on our event. We are following guidance from the venue, the World Health Organization and the French authorities.
Since mounting concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, have caused various events to postpone or cancel—including SXSW in Austin, Texas and French conference organizer Reed Midem behind MipTV in Cannes, France—people have been watching Cannes Lions, and Cannes Film Festival, for signs that it too will shut down.
French authorities most recently banned certain gatherings of over 1,000 people in the wake of what is becoming an epidemic—the U.S. now has nearly 540 known cases of coronavirus across 34 states with 22 deaths, according to a tally from The New York Times, while the number of cases in France has risen to above 1,000 with 19 deaths.
Every year, hundreds of brands and agencies descend on the French Riviera for the annual Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity that features massive beach takeovers from the likes of Google and Facebook, speaker sessions and the prestigious industry awards ceremony. It's the largest gathering in creative marketing with some 15,000 people from 90 countries traveling to the event every year.
Meanwhile, The One Club became the latest major industry event to shift its plans. The organizer of the One Show, another of the industry’s biggest and most-respected awards shows alongside Cannes, announced today that it will now be held entirely online. The One Club’s Creative Week was originally set to be held from May 11-15 at venues around New York City.
Ad Age's Jeanine Poggi contributed to this report.