Cannes Lions returning as in-person event

Sure the COVID picture looks bleak around the world right now, but Cannes Lions organizers are confident things will look a lot brighter by June.

So much so, that they are planning the return of the industry’s most extravagant awards program for the third week of June, its traditional spot on the calendar. The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity was first postponed until October, and eventually cancelled entirely, shifting to an online version because of the pandemic.

Festival organizers confirmed their plan on Wednesday, after Adweek first reported on Tuesday that an in-person event was planned.

“While travel is currently constrained, the availability of multiple vaccines offers hope that we can be together in June, even if we need to limit the numbers of delegates who can safely attend,” said Lions chairman Phillip Thomas in a statement. “We will continue to carefully monitor the situation, and maintain our regular communications with the authorities in France, but there are many other large international events planned for the same timeline, and it’s clear from talking to the global industry that everybody is very keen to come together again.”

Juries will judge work for both 2020 and 2021, awarding Lions for both years.

While the release provided few details aside from confirming the awards will be judged and awarded in person, it did say the festival will “have a significant digital element.”

Cannes Lions introduced a digital pass in 2016 to allow virtual attendees to take in the many talks and seminars from a long list of speakers from around the world, but more than 80,000 people took in some Cannes Lions digital content last year when the festival went online only.

David Brown