Restrictions on bar entry at Cannes could 'kill energy'

"Locking them out, and making it the preserve of the giants, will kill some of the energy and edge," one executive warned.

A stricter admission policy for bars and hotels at this year's Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity risks changing the nature of the event, industry leaders have warned.

Daytime access to popular hotel bars will be restricted to festival pass-holders and their guests. The rule covers five hotels along the Croisette – Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic, InterContinental Carlton, JW Marriott, Grand Hyatt Cannes Hôtel Martinez, and Le Grand Hôtel – and lasts until 8 p.m. local time. Entry is open to all after that time. 

James Murphy, cofounder of Adam & Eve/DDB, said organizers need to be "wary they don’t accidentally kill off the unique magic" of Cannes, which has room for everyone from "corporate high rollers" to entrepreneurs and creatives on placement. 

"Locking them out, and making it the preserve of the giants, will kill some of the energy and edge," he added.

Those without a pass who wish to enter the bars as guests of delegates will need to gain "hotel access" via the Cannes Lions app. 

Entry to the harbor will also be restricted to pass-holders between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day. 

The change runs the risk of making the event "a little bit more boring and corporate," said Andy Nairn, founding partner at Lucky Generals. 

Yet he insisted the city beyond the Croisette was just as important.

"Some of the nicest, most constructive meetings we’ve had have been very informal, outside the main drag," Naim explained.

Meanwhile, Pete Markey, Aviva’s brand communications and marketing director, argued it wouldn’t be a huge issue if the policy had an impact on the festival.

"It’s a really interesting time for events like this to define what they’re about," he said.

With so many events for marketers to choose from, each one needs a clear identity, Markey added.

"If doing this sharpens up what Cannes is about, I don’t think that’s a bad thing," he said. "What it can’t do is become all things to all people."

The Cannes Lions website states that the change is in response to "very high demand" for access to hotel bars and restaurants. However, a spokeswoman told Campaign that plans are still being confirmed.

The festival is scheduled to run from June 17-24.

UPDATE: A spokeswoman for Cannes Lions said the restriction will be until 6 p.m., and those without a pass to the event will need to register online for entry to the bars. The Cannes Lions website will be updated with this information.

"In line with most of the other major events that take place in Cannes, from this year official delegates at Cannes Lions will have priority access to the main bars and restaurants of the ‘Palace’ hotels along the Croisette between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., during the festival," the spokesperson said.
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