Nuclear protests strike Cannes

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European creatives are making next year's Lions festival in Cannes the focus of their protest against France's nuclear testing policy.

Some agency art folk want the International Advertising Festival organizers to change the event's site--to anywhere but France. And if French President Jacques Chirac shows no sign of stopping nuclear tests in the South Pacific, some creatives threaten to boycott next year's festival.

Creative Forum, a Norwegian organization for local creatives in Oslo, dispatched a letter to the Art Directors Club of Europe in Milan last week urging members to call for a location change, possibly to Venice, a former festival site.

Frode Karlberg, Creative Forum chairman and copywriter at JBR/McCann, Oslo, said this is the forum's first-ever political protest.

The letter, in part, said, "Moving the Lions 1996 from Cannes to another location would be a proper, effective and visible means of reaction against French lack of respect for the views and feelings of the rest of the world in general, and the people of the Pacific in specific."

Copies of the letter were also sent to creative clubs in the Pacific.

"It is such a serious matter, advertising people have to take a stand," Mr. Karlberg said.

Agency and creative executives in Norway and Sweden support the Creative Forum's protest.

"There are some very strong opinions about France's nuclear tests here," said Bente Amundsen, art director at Leo Burnett Co., Oslo.

"I have even heard advertising people in Australia, Japan and the U.S. wanting the festival to move," added Trygve Ingebraaten, partner and creative director at Publicis FCB, Oslo.

"I am willing to sign a petition that calls for the festival to move from France," said Mats Smedegard, art director at Lintas Stockholm.

Some threaten to boycott next year's festival should the French government persist with its nuclear testing policy. "I would consider not registering," said art director Jari Ullakko of Lowe Brindfors, Stockholm.

Charles Sciberras, festival director, said moving the event is not feasible. "The festival left Venice in the early 1980s because it was getting bigger and we needed more room," he explained.

Also, organizers have booked the festival in Cannes through the year 2000. One attractive aspect of the contract is that hotel room prices are being kept at the 1994 rates through 1997.

"As much as we sympathize [with those criticizing Cannes and France], you can't move such a huge animal in a few months," Mr. Sciberras said. "Besides, there are also signs that [political] protests around the world are already working."

Copyright September 1995 Crain Communications Inc.

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