Cannes Lions

Dear CFO: This is why I should go to Cannes (according to the Cannes Lions)

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Cannes Lions 2017 flags
Cannes Lions 2017 flags Credit: Courtesy Cannes Lions

With the Cannes International Festival of Creativity just a month away, organizers have released a "Convince the CFO" kit with resources to help people get the OK to attend from C-suite types—including a ready-made letter and a "budget-holder friendly week plan."

"We don't ever meet people who don't want to go to Cannes Lions, but as with any investment you have to form a case to attend to those who are the budget holders," Clare Hill, Cannes Lions' director of marketing and brand, wrote in an email. She said the kit went up earlier this month, aligned to the festival's "key delegate booking period."

The kit, Hill said, has had over 500 downloads, and that "even some of the world's global CMOs have downloaded it. Each year, over 1,000 delegates who are under 30 years old attend the festival and we want to make it as easy as possible for businesses to invest in their future talent."

She added the kit wasn't released for attendance-related reasons and said it has always been in the marketing plan, along with its "Brand Quiz" and "#askDroga" initiatives. Other conferences, including Collision, offer materials for potential attendees to offer their bosses in hopes of attending.

Cannes announced a slate of changes for the festival in November following backlash from agencies and holding companies saying it had gotten too expensive.

The "Convince the CFO" kit's ready-made letter, intended to be signed by someone seeking to go to the festival, defends against costliness: "I'm aware that last year there were murmurings about the festival becoming too expensive, but I can reassure you on that score," the letter reads. "Cannes Lions has significantly trimmed the costs of attending this year, and the cost of a complete delegate pass has been cut by 900 euros. The festival has also worked with the city of Cannes to freeze hotel prices from last year and establish fixed-price menus at more than 50 restaurants."

In a recent interview with Ad Age, organizers also said the festival was giving out Young Lions passes as a reward to agency offices that had entered a certain amount of pieces last year. "Complete" passes for Young Lions—for people aged 30 or younger—are €1,795, down from the €3,249 it costs for a standard "Complete" pass.

"All of those promises we gave to the industry that we would balance those considerations absolutely have been fulfilled," said Duncan Painter, CEO of Ascential, the parent company of the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, referring to the affordability of the festival.

The "Convince the CFO" materials also refer to the ROI for attendees, boasting of the networking potential and saying attendees from around the world come to meet clients, share case studies and provide the right climate (i.e., high chances "of bumping into a business leader on any street corner") to strike a deal.

A sample agenda also suggests eight "CFO-Friendly" festival events, including a presentation by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and a 30-minute guided tour through shortlisted and winning work with a jury president or "industry legend."

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