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Weekend Read:  Is Cannes Suffering From FOCU? – Digital Gabe
Digital Gabe
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Weekend Read:  Is Cannes Suffering From FOCU?

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In a week the Who’s Who of Marketing will gather on the French Riviera for the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.  As you might imagine hopping from award banquets, to yacht parties, to media panels, and then back to yacht parties doesn’t suck.  However, this year more than ever the companies who attend are doing some soul searching about the cost vs. the benefit of Cannes.

The two groups who shoulder most of Cannes’ costs are agencies and publishers.  As described by WPP Chief Innovation Officer Lindsay Patterson in this AdAge guest author column, agencies feel compelled to host junkets to Cannes because their clients get nominated for awards and understandably want to go.  Instead of FOMO, the terms she uses is FOCU (Fear of Clients Unattended), because if the incumbent agency isn’t shepherding their clients around you can bet another agency is cozying up with them.  Despite the gravitational pull of FOCU, some agency Holding Companies have started to draw a line in the Cannes beach sand.  Most notably Publicis is sitting out this years’ Cannes Lions in protest of the ever-expanding list of award categories – which has resulted in more client nominees wanting to attend than ever before.  It makes you wonder if the other HoCos could impact change at Cannes by cutting back too?

As previously mentioned, the other Cannes-funding contingency is the publishers.  Admittedly vendors sponsoring Cannes activities and hosting elaborate parties is more self-motivated than it is on the agency side.  For this group Cannes represents an opportunity to relationship build with CEOs, CMOs and other business leaders.  There’s sort of an arms race aspect to entertaining at Cannes though – if you’re not hosting the coolest party with best celebrities/artists it probably means your competition is.  Thus the FOCU cycle continues.

Don’t get me wrong, Cannes Lions is a breathtaking event which isn’t replicated anywhere else is the world, and it does provide true value to the Marketing industry.  I’m just wondering out loud if the Lion should be tamed back a little moving forward?


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