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Is Cannes Dropping ‘Advertising’ From Festival Title to Appeal to Broader Audience? CEO Says No

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The Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival is the most prominent advertising festival in the world. This past year, the festival added a PR category for the first time, and awards were won by Weber Shandwick, MS&L Worldwide, Taylor and Ketchum.

Tony Burgess-Webb, Chief Marketing Officer and Executive Vice President, Hill & Knowlton, told PRNewser that PR submissions “were low” with 450 entries. “The number of the PR category entries that actually came from PR agencies was less than 43%, and the winning entry came from a Sydney-based ad agency,” he said. “So from point of view of panel of judges – Hill and Knowlton had two judges on panel – it was pretty disappointing.”

Burgess said that the Cannes team asked what they could do about the low turnout in regards to PR. In response, Hill & Knowlton hosted an event with the PRCA – PRSA’s equivalent in the UK – and invited 100 agencies to come in and hear about how they can win a gold at Cannes next year. “The fact is it’s not an advertising festival, it’s a marketing communications festival. Why not drop the whole title,” asked Burgess-Webb. “I certainly think they should,” he said.

Asked if the festival is dropping advertising from the title this year to appeal to a broader audience, Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions said, “No, that’s not correct” and did not elaborate further.

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