Cannes Responds To Publicis: Let's Form A Committee!

Looks like this Publicis break-from-Cannes affair has done more than get tongues wagging. The Cannes Lions organization is taking action! 

Well, sorta. They’ve formed a committee to look at the future direction of the event. And we all know where committees taking on tasks like that can end up—on a long and winding road to nowhere! 

Still, whatever their motivation, and it seems to be changing daily, Pub is proving to be quite the disrupter this week. Lots of companies have grumbled about Cannes—its cost and its focus. Pub was the first to take a stand. And maybe that disruption will spark change the industry can get behind. 

It’s really early in the game, and this whole thing may a great big to-do about nothing. As I’ve said before, it remains to be seen if Pub actually pulls out. And who knows what this committee will actually do. 

But it already has some heavy-hitters on it, including Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer of Procter & Gamble, Keith Weed, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Unilever, Fernando Machado, Head of Brand Marketing, Burger King, Fiona Carter, Chief Brand Officer, AT&T and Jan Derck van Karnebeek, Chief Commercial Officer at Heineken, with more members to be announced soon. 



They’re pretty serious ballers and affect a lot of change at their companies. So there’s good reason to believe they could have some impact in making Cannes a better event going forward. 

Here’s what Phil Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions parent Ascential Events had to say: “As well as clients who have offered to help shape the future of the Festival, we will – as usual – consult with all global creative leaders, heads of holding companies and other major partners.

"There have been a lot of discussions this week about the structure of the Festival, and we want to create the right Cannes Lions experience for all participants. The thing that unites them all is their belief in creativity as a powerful force in the world, and this is at the heart of everything we do.” 

Which I’m sure is music to Arthur Sadoun’s ears. 

Pritchard threw in his two cents: "We attend Cannes Lions to focus on creativity to drive growth. It's the right time to step back and take a look at the best way forward for Cannes Lions to provide the best possible platform for creativity in our industry, and P&G is ready and willing to help." 

As did van Karnebeek: “Cannes Lions has always been a force for good in promoting creativity as a core driver of our businesses. We are committed to assist where we can in charting the right way forward.” 

The full list of members will be announced soon and the first meeting will take place shortly after the Festival, Thomas noted. “We look forward to sharing the committee’s recommendations with the global creative community, and we’re excited to see the ideas produced by this deeper collaboration.” 

Speaking of Sadoun, he issued a memo to the troops Thursday addressing the contretemps. In part it reads:

“Of course, one of the biggest pieces of news from this week was our announcement of Marcel, the world's first professional assistant powered by AI and machine learning.” 

Yes, Arthur, that would be an understatement. 

“I know from many of you that there are a lot of questions, so I didn't want the week to end without answering some of the big ones.” He’ll get to Biggest One a few graphs down.

“First, let me be clear: At Publicis Groupe, we stand for great work. The Marcel platform is being created to make that work even better, by developing new types of collaboration that will lead to creativity without borders and without limits. Creativity is our raison d'être, and Marcel will allow us to climb higher.”

“Second, to build this extremely powerful tool, which will allow each and every one of you to fuel our best creative work, we need to focus 100% on making it a reality.” OK, a lot of people are calling it a glorified database. Time will tell, I guess, what exactly Marcel turns out to be.

“That's why we're shifting our promotional budget to reinvest in our people and the future of our company. We are taking a pause from awards shows, festivals and industry events for 365 days. But make no mistake, when that time is done, we will be back stronger than ever before.” 

We’ll see, maybe even sooner is my bet!

“Third, I know many of you are asking how our clients are reacting. I'm excited to tell you that their early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. And it's not just our clients. Other partners have expressed not only their support, but also their belief that this has the power to be transformational.

"Earlier this week, I was speaking with Twitter CEO and cofounder Jack Dorsey, who called our initiative "ambitious and disruptive." He said, "without a doubt, Publicis Groupe's Marcel platform will be a game-changer for the industry." 

I don’t know, did he really say that? I mean it just popped out in perfectly sound-bite fashion? Sounds a little press release-y to me, but whatever. If you say he said it, Arthur, I believe you. (Just like I believe Publicis will be back a Cannes next year.)

“Finally, nothing great comes easy, and we didn't take this decision lightly. But I'm convinced that this is the right move. The only thing that will derail us is a lack of communication. And that's my responsibility. Which is why in the next days and weeks, we will provide all of you with more information, Q&A's, updates and opportunities to get involved.”

Sadoun finished his missive with: “As a first step, starting Monday, I will be on Twitter to answer all of your questions — the good, the bad and the ugly — openly and transparently. Be as candid as possible; use a pseudonym, use a friend's account, or get in touch personally ... Whatever you're most comfortable with, I want to hear from you.” 

Ah, geez, Twitter. Really? Please don’t abuse it, I beg you! I’m so sick of seeing 30-year-old pictures of the Dangerously-Inept- Orange-Haired-One accompanying his mindless, fake blathering every time I turn around. 

But I guess that explains the Jack Dorsey quote.



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