Trout & Partners - Global Leaders in Strategic Positioning

Trout & Partners

Global Leaders in Strategic Positioning

Should Cannes be Avoided?

Now that the Cannes Lion Festival has passed out all its awards and the partying is over, perhaps it’s time to reflect on whether all this is worth the time, money and effort.

Let’s start with some cost of attending numbers. There are 17 categories you can enter. You name it and you can sign up for a Lion. The cost per entry starts at about $500 and goes up to $1300. When you put travel and hotel expenses on top, a large organization is on the hook for a great deal of money. Throw one of the many parties and you are talking real money.

To look at the benefits of all this money spent, an analogy with the Cannes Film Festival is in order. If you are promoting a movie, receiving an award is very helpful. Cannes and other festivals generate publicity and distribution for a film. It’s not the Academy Awards but it can lead you there if you have a good film. But does the Cannes Lion Festival get people to see more advertising or promotions? Of course not.

Does receiving awards help an agency get new business? Maybe, but all agencies tout their awards. Most new business revolves around people and contacts, not how you do at Cannes. Many clients are not impressed with awards which is why so many accounts switch even after an award is received. In the U.S., it’s called the “Curse of the Clio” which is one of America’s big awards contests.

Does receiving awards help make your creative employees more important? It might, but there is a dark side. When your employees start to think about winning creative awards, it leads them to produce advertising that is more emotional and entertaining rather than advertising that sells something.

But what I find especially silly is that there doesn’t appear to be any focus on strategy. Instead, the program is filled with the likes of content delivery systems, customized messages, coordinated interactive installations and the like. One cannot escape the feeling that the owners of this show, the Top Right Group, are producing an event with a lot of parties, a lot of jargon and very little on how to differentiate yourself in an increasingly competitive world. This kind of thinking appears to be out of favor. One wonders if attendees have a good time, do some networking, but don’t emerge with anything that can help beyond a lot of truisms and clichés which their competitors sit there and listen to as well. I also suspect that many attendees leave somewhat confused at all the latest jargon.

One can only look at all this as self-congratulatory narcissism that costs a lot of money. I don’t want to be a spoil sport but from my point of view, the answer to the question I initially posed is obvious: As currently constituted, Cannes should probably be cancelled from any meetings you plan to attend. Jeff Goodby of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, in a recent article in CMO Today also answered the question by stating that his recent visit to Cannes was probably his last.

But to end on a high note, at the next Cannes Festival, why not introduce the concept of “Dramativity” as a replacement for “Creativity?” It would award programs for how well they dramatized a product’s point of difference or selling message. That kind of program would be well worth attending.

 
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