CANNES, France — Mega-yachts, five-star hotels and private concerts with rock-and-roll legends? This ad agency has had enough.
Publicis Groupe, the behemoth that owns top ad firms like Leo Burnett and Saatchi & Saatchi, shocked the crowd at Cannes Lions Thursday when it announced it will take a break from boondoggle next year, griping about its crippling costs.
Publicis submits the third-largest number of entries for the festival’s Cannes Lions awards competition, shelling out around $2 million for the submissions, Ad Age reports. Add hotels, food and the endless slew of shindigs, and the tab for the week can come to $20 million.
The Publicis pullout could put a serious dent in next year’s proceedings — and it isn’t the only ad giant with mixed feelings.
“There is general concern about the positioning and cost of Cannes,” WPP CEO Martin Sorrell told The Post after Thursday’s bombshell. “My view is it will have to change, maybe even its location.”
Sorrell signaled, however, that a wholesale WPP withdrawal wasn’t in the offing.
“I don’t think boycotts work,” he said. “Better to work with the parties involved to craft a better solution?”
Creative executives, who rely on awards to boost their resumes and gain credit with clients, are fuming about the move, fretting it could hurt their careers, sources told The Post.
Yannick Bollore, CEO of Havas Group, told The Post that his company would be back. Bollore said he was thrilled Havas had won a huge number of awards this year — 37 as of Thursday evening.
“The industry is full of talent — I wanted to hire everyone,” Bollore gushed. “Creativity is our core value, more than consulting.”
Even so, watching the magnums of rose splashed at the Carlton Hotel Terrace bar by the winners and their entourages, it’s easy to see why the bean counters might cringe. A drink at the bar is anywhere upwards of 20 Euros.
To add insult to injury, Publicis’s new CEO Arthur Sadoun, who has been in the job under a month, said the money would be spent instead on artificial intelligence technology.
Cost hasn’t been the only sticking point. The main event at Cannes Lions is an awards show for advertising creatives. But increasingly, the heart of the proceedings has been squeezed by an endless program of speakers holding forth about creativity and innovation. What’s more, each ad agency, as well as a growing assortment of tech giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft, all have their own separate tracks, leading to growing confusion and exhaustion among attendees.
According to an internal memo reported by AdWeek, Publicis is “looking for 2.5 percent cost synergies for 2018” and is “eliminating all award/trade shows for the next year,” including CES in Las Vegas.
Ad Age reports that Publicis submits the third largest number of entries, costing around $2 million to submit, and with hotels and food, the entire week long event can cost up to $20 million.
Shares of Ascential, which owns Cannes Lions, slipped 1.7 percent on the London Stock Exchange.
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