Publicis shops to withdraw from Cannes next year

It seems odd that a French firm would poop on the party known as the Cannes International Festival of Creativity, but here we are.

According to an AdWeek report, a recent memo circulated within the Paris-based holding company Publicis announced that the firm’s 2018 cost cutting strategy will include “eliminating all award/trade shows for the next year.”

Presumably, the no-show declaration applies to Leo Burnett, Burrell Communications, Digitas and Lapiz, which are among the dozens of subsidiaries in the Publics network.

The memo, the article continues, was written by Frank Voris, CEO of Publicis’ financial services unit, Re:Sources. Its publication coincided with the widely celebrated launch of Publicis’ internal digital platform, “Marcel,” which is billed as “the first ever professional assistant that uses AI and machine learning technology.” So, there’s that. 

The awards show embargo will likely create dismay among the thousands of delegates who are currently attending the 64th festival on the French Riviera, but cause little or no concern for the millions of people stuck Somewhere Else.

The lavish soirees thrown at Cannes have frequently provoked speculation about the ROI of funds spent on alcohol and disc jockeys, especially among guests at the parties where people are drinking and dancing for free.

In previous years, one Midwestern agency became renowned for an annual celebration that eventually expanded onto a dance floor over the Mediterranean Sea.

Another production firm had so many people coming and going throughout its weeklong binge that the owner hired the former president of Egypt’s bodyguard to protect him.

Attending the festival can cost up to €5,125 for an individual “all inclusive pass.” The price is often paid by agencies, production companies and rep firms that send employees and clients to the event.

Funds spent on the event can seem excessive, but the cost barely compares to the amount required to buy time during the Super Bowl, and the festival generates an influential demographic that only exists for one week every year.

Additionally, the work showcased at Cannes serves as a global yardstick of popular culture, a status report for emerging media and a boost to worldwide innovation. These phenomena grow with significant contributions from the advertising community, and they are worthy of celebration.

It just won’t be the same without input from Burnett, Burrell, Digitas and all the rest of the agencies dwelling under Publicis’ parapluie.