Cannes Lions has announced it is cancelling the annual Festival of Creativity, which will no longer take place in October as previously planned. This includes the Cannes Lions awards. The next edition of the festival will run June 21 through 25, 2021.
The move comes just two weeks after Cannes Lions postponed the festival to late October as part of previously announced contingency plans with French authorities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused thousands of deaths and kept millions in isolation worldwide.
Earlier in March the festival noted all entries would still be judged and awarded in 2020, regardless of the festival's timing.
Today in a statement, Cannes Lions changed its position in light of global events. "As the impact from COVID-19 continues to be felt across the world on consumers and our customers across the marketing, creative and media industries, it has become clear to us our customers' priorities have shifted to the need to protect people, to serve consumers with essential items and to focus on preserving companies, society and economies," the festival said.
"Our difficult decision follows in-depth consultations with our partners and customers and reflects the unprecedented societal, health and economic challenges currently facing the world, as well as our desire to remove any uncertainty about the running of the awards and event for our partners and customers."
Earlier this week, Campaign reported a large number of agency groups had already decided not to send delegates to an October event in Cannes.
Philip Thomas, chairman, Cannes Lions, added: "Cannes Lions at its core has always been about creativity and the Lions. We realise that the creative community has other challenges to face, and simply isn't in a position to put forward the work that will set the benchmark.
"The marketing and creative industries, in common with so many others, are currently in turmoil, and it's clear that we can play our small part by removing all speculation about the festival this year. We have tried to make our decisions as early as possible to give the industry total clarity on the situation, and that is why we are announcing this move today."
The organisers have not yet disclosed how they will handle awards submissions that have already been made. We have reached out for clarification on that point.
The organisers have clarified that all entries received so far for the 2020 awards will be judged next year. The 2021 awards will have a two-year eligibility period.
A version of this article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign Asia-Pacific.