Cannes Lions Advertising Own Goal

As any long-time reader of this blog will be aware, I'm no great fan of the awards schemes that have attached themselves like parasites to the ad business. Mostly I choose to ignore them completely, life is much simpler, and nicer that way.

But it's hard to ignore this, because it's a full-page ad in the most prominent ad industry magazine. What on earth were Cannes Lions thinking when they approved and ran this ad?

The lame, poorly stereotyped depiction of creatives does them no favours. But worse, what made them think it was appropriate to make a joke about making creatives redundant? I wonder if any of the people involved in the creation, making or approval of this has ever been around a company that is making redundancies? If you have, you'll know that it's a deeply unpleasant experience. And while it's true that some people say redundancy is the best thing that happened to me, for many it's upsetting and stressful and leaves them in a difficult position.

One of the great modern problems of advertising as an industry is its seemingly insatiable appetite for taking on hopeful young creatives on very low salaries, giving them little training, and encouraging them to work themselves into the ground before spitting them out the other end jobless.

This is a quite unpleasant ad, moronic and misguided – it makes Cannes Lions appear to be shameless money-grubbers who don't really give a shit about advertising or the people who work in it. Whether that's true, you can decide for yourself. Exhibit A...


  1. Completely agree.

    Plus: what point is the ad actually trying to make? And what are they trying to get you to do?

    Also: isn't it mocking its own awards? It says "you" (whoever it means by 'you') voted these people the team to watch, and now it turns out they're shit.


    1. thats what i thought whats the point of this ad?! are we meant to feel sorry for them and buy them tickets so confused

  2. Well, if this ad doesn't make you want to go to Cannes Lions, I don't know what would.

  3. It's so wrong/bad on so many levels. Here are a few of them:

    1. It perpetuates the bad cycle of CDs not training creatives properly, telling them to "just send them to Cannes and let others mentor them for me".

    2. It stereotypes creatives in a condescending way.

    3. No one likes being reminded of a decision that didn't work out, over and over again.

    4. How is sacking a team more expensive than sending them to Cannes and keeping them on for another year? On an earlier version of this I saw floating around it said "cheaper than severance", which makes slightly more sense. However I have no idea how much it costs to send two people to Cannes and pay for the flight, hotel, and food.

    5. At some point in their career, this team did something to get on your radar (and be "the team to watch") but have failed to live up to the expectation afterwards. Surely they can't be THAT bad then? Imagine being the creatives who made Old Spice, Volvo Epic Split, Honda Cogs, Surfer etc... It'll be VERY hard to raise the bar yet again after those.

    6. Any creative worth his/her salt has a look at the Cannes winners online (which is even cheaper than a delegate pass). Even I do, although I agree that awards are utterly worthless. Why? Because it's my job to know what's out there. Much like I read every D&AD annual, from the very first issue to the current one.

    7. It's badly art directed. The photo of the creatives is redundant (!) and I've got trouble reading the white copy which is partly on a yellow/white background. The slant doesn't help either and feels gimmicky.

    Did I miss something?

  4. I think the business problem here is pretty obvious: sell more passes.
    how? motivate agencies to send not only their star teams (and old farts).
    why? cause the non-star teams might learn something and bring you more awards (and - uffff! - business...).
    so far so good, I don't have much problems with this. it's pretty reasonable (regardless of being stretched on non-star teams bringing more awards). Cannes is money-making machine so it's logical to be more greedy.

    but the idea, the thinking, the execution... all wrong.

    it actually strenghtens the perception of Cannes being arrogant, selfcentered, egomaniacal, out-of-touch pissparade.

  5. I see so many teams like these.

  6. Thanks for talking about this Sell Sell. As a young creative that's been made redundant at one of the so-called nicer independent agencies, I too found this ad more spiteful than insightful.


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