Watch: Cannes Lions Execs Explain 2018 Changes

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As announced on Monday in London, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity—the world’s biggest awards show and platform for advertisers, marketers and brands to celebrate, share and learn from the best of the best—is evolving.

In some ways, it’s getting smaller, shrinking from eight days to five; in other ways, it’s getting bigger, focusing in on the key areas ideas that really matter to its audience, like a Davos for creatives—or “the world’s center stage for the creative mind,” as the events Managing Director, Jose Papa, notes on his LinkedIn profile.

The specifics of how it’s changing—as announced by Papa with Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions organizer Ascential—followed discussions with agency groups:

• There will now be nine core tracks that will provide the foundation for the Festival’s content and programming – speakers, panel sessions and workshops – to help attendees navigate the Festival more easily

• Points allocations for the Special Awards (Holding Company of the Year, Agency of the Year, Network of the Year) have been tweaked to recognize “the very best work”

• A whopping 120 award sub-categories have been eliminated

Charity and NGO submissions will be judged separately from brand-led work

• A new entry cap means that each piece of work can only be submitted for a maximum of six Lions

Lions Innovation extended across the entire event with a full program of content to reflect the importance of technology as an enabler of creativity

• Categories being eliminated: The Cyber Lions, Integrated Lions and Promo Lions

• Categories being added: Brand Experience & Activation, Creative E-commerce and Social & Influencer Lions

• The craft categories within Print, Outdoor and Design will be removed from their respective Lions to be judged by a specialist Industry Craft Jury.

• Live-streaming across the program will be free, with winning work continuing to be published on the Cannes Lions website.

• To attract younger participants, one Young Lions delegate pass will be given free to every office which submitted more than 15 entries this year, meaning more than 650 free badges next year.

• The city of Cannes has agreed to capping taxi fares, making free Wi-Fi available along the Croisette, freezing hotel prices and organizing fixed-price menus for Festival badge holders at more than 50 restaurants.

• The city will also celebrate the creative submissions and award winners displayed on screens on the beach and around Cannes.

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The changes were sufficient to lure Publicis Groupe back as an attendee in 2019, after announcing it would hold its own creativity festival in Paris next year.

“This is an especially important launch for us,” said Thomas of the reboot. “We have spent a lot of time talking to the relevant people to make sure the Festival is not only as aspirational as possible, but to also ensure the sentiment behind the Festival is fundamentally founded on the work and those behind it. We have held lengthy discussions in order to curate an updated Festival that puts the creative content back at the heart of Cannes Lions.”

“Our customers made it clear that they had a significant issue with the affordability of the city of Cannes, and we shared this feedback with our city partners,” Papa commented. “The response from the city, and from (Cannes) Mayor David Lisnard’s office has been fantastic. These new delegate benefits make it possible for attendees to budget for the Festival more accurately and effectively, with genuine money-saving measures.”

“Change has always been part of Cannes Lions and the innovations we’re introducing for 2018 mark an exciting new phase in the story of the Festival,” Thomas added. “Some of the effects from these changes will be felt immediately, while others represent the start of a longer transitional journey. But what they all have in common is that they refocus the festival and ensure that Cannes Lions continues to be the leading global event for the world’s creative communications industries for many years to come.”

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