Monday Wake-Up Call: Martin Sorrell's denial. Plus, your guide to the Cannes Lions 2.0

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Martin Sorrell in 2016
Martin Sorrell in 2016 Credit: SeongJoon Cho/Bloomberg

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app. What people are talking about today: In case you missed the breaking news this weekend about WPP founder Martin Sorrell, here it is ... "Sorrell 'strenuously denies' he used WPP funds for a prostitute" is the headline on Megan Graham's story in Ad Age. Sorrell spent 33 years building the world's biggest ad firm until he resigned abruptly about two months ago. The company had been investigating him for alleged "personal misconduct" that has yet to be named. Questions swirled and then, this weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that the probe had "addressed whether he used company money for a prostitute." A statement from Sorrell's spokesman noted that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement with WPP, but added: "As regards the allegations which have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Sir Martin strenuously denies them. He will be making no further comment at this time."
What's next: WPP hosts its annual general meeting on Wednesday in London. Which could get interesting.

'You're so creative.' 'No, you're so creative!'
The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity returns June 18 after a reset. "The ad industry's biggest festival had gotten too big," as Ad Age's Megan Graham writes in her preview of the event, and the new, updated Cannes is shorter, with cheaper passes and fewer awards subcategories. While many agency execs are optimistic, others wonder if the changes are enough. "Advertising is in turmoil and it doesn't feel right that the elite of the industry congregate on the French Riviera to congratulate each other over rosé: 'You're so creative.' 'No, you're so creative!'" Sylvain Labs founder Alain Sylvain told Graham. Read the full story here (including why this year's Cannes Lions will be "the year of the lioness").
Also: What does Procter & Gamble's chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, think about the changes at Cannes? Basically, he's pleased. Read more about the marketer angle from Jack Neff in Ad Age.

You'll never guess what happened next ...
Last year, Publicis Groupe stunned the Cannes Lions by announcing that it would sit out awards shows, including Cannes, in 2018, to spend money instead on an AI platform called Marcel. The agency world wondered if creative talent would flee Publicis (and, it must be said, there was a lot of snickering about the AI bot thing). So what happened? "Great, even fantastic, ideas kept coming from Publicis shops, new honors have already rolled in and, on a broader level, the awards industry has addressed ever-growing issues of bloat and renewed its focus on creativity," writes Ad Age's Ann-Christine Diaz. Oh, and also: Publicis campaigns won't be absent from Cannes after all, because clients and partners stepped up to pay for the entry cost for a few hundred campaigns.

Just briefly:
Bleep: At the Tony Awards, Robert De Niro shouted "F*** Trump! It's no longer 'down with Trump.' It's f*** Trump!" But CBS edited it out of the telecast, Variety writes. (Australian TV ran it, and you can watch the moment uncensored here. By the way, De Niro got a standing ovation. Because, De Niro.)

Goodbye: Today marks the end of net neutrality in the U.S. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told The Washington Post: "I think ultimately it's going to mean better, faster, cheaper Internet access and more competition." We're not feeling so good about this one. (Also, remember when Pai bizarrely did the "Harlem Shake" to convince us this was a good idea?)

Moment of truth: Is the Time Warner-AT&T merger going to happen? A federal judge in Washington is set to decide Tuesday whether the $85 billion deal can go ahead. Read more from Bloomberg News.

New low prices!: "Snapchat has replaced one problem with another, to advertisers' potential benefit: Prices for ads on the platform have gone from ungodly to low, low, low," writes Ad Age's Garett Sloane.

Creativity of the day: Every year, Ad Age has a contest asking young creatives to design a cover for our Creativity issue. The brief this time was to "choose something you personally feel strongly about and create around that." Of the 600 entries from 60 countries, the winner is 25-year-old Dany Alberto Sosa Gálvez, art director at Capital DBG in the Dominican Republic. His arresting cover tackles the issue of gun violence in schools. Check it out here, and read Ad Age editor Brian Braiker's story about how we chose the winner.

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