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Cannes Is Kind Of Like A Game Of Bolita

I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about Cannes after this year’s snafus and blow-ups. There’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to the Lions. Lets start by looking at the money end of the festival, shall we?

In 2008, over 28,000 entries from 85 countries competed for the coveted Lions at the Cannes 55th International Advertising Festival. That’s an increase of 10.2% versus 2007. Wow-zee, woozers! Without taking into account the new Design Lions category, that increase is 5.8%. A lot of those new entrants also come from the break out of TV to include other screens.

In order to enter your work in Cannes, you’re paying anywhere from $466 US (Radio Lions) to $1120 if you’re entering into the Film Lions. If you’re living in the UK, it’s a little bit more. The average entry fee cost (considering Film, Outdoor, Cyber, Direct, Radio, Integrated, etc.) is $816.84 (roughly). Stay with me, ok? So, that average times the 28,000 entries? $22,871,576. Oh yeah dawg. Read it and weep.

If you want to go for the full 4 days and go to every event the festival has running it’ll cost ya. That’s 2386.02 pounds or 4455.42 US dollars (that includes the French TVA fee). For arguments sake, let’s say that of the 10,000 reported delegates, not everyone got the full package. Lets say they ponied up for three days. That’s still $3126.61. Okay, multiply that by the 10,000 or so delegates. I’ll wait.


Got it? Right, right – $31,266,000. Shall we add those two numbers together? I’ll do it for you. It’s $54,137,576. And keep in mind that I’m underestimating everything. Plus, I’m not including how much it cost to access the archives each year – a whopping $2800 – nor the kickbacks from various enterprises in Cannes. Oh, Cannes is so smart.

Of course, some agencies bill back their entry fees to clients. Smaller agencies might just be on the line for the dough. Out of all the attendees about 96% of people will get their return on investment and hell, it can be valuable. They’ve branded the hell out of the competition and its worked, hook line and sinker. They say that a Cannes Lions can bring a new job offer, new clients and keep old ones. Still, it’s kind of like a game of bolita.

Bolita is type of lottery, which was popular in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries in Cuba and among Florida’s working class. In the basic bolita game, 100 small numbered balls are placed into a bag and bets are taken on which number will be drawn. Bets sold well in advance, and the game could be rigged, by having extra balls of a given number or not including others at all. Other means of cheating included having putting certain balls in ice beforehand so they’d be cold and therefore easy for the selector to find by touch. Sounds kind of like Cannes no? Lets rig the game with fake ads along with the basic shaky principles of judges promising not to vote for friends and their own work. Riiiight.

Come on. The least Cannes could do is pay for the judge’s airfare and you know, check an ad or two to see if it’s real. How much would that cost? Ten dollars an hour to have some interns make some calls? You do the math.

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