Cannes Lions entry numbers dip as focus shifts to short-term Covid-era work

Total entries are down 6% on 2019 - but there has been a surge in entries from indie agencies and production companies

Jun 18, 2021 04:54:00 AM | Article | John Harrington Share - Share to Facebook

Entry numbers to this year's Cannes Lions are down 6% on 2019, with the 2021 event spanning two years' work, following its cancellation during the Covid-19 crisis last year.

In total, 29,074 pieces of work have been entered to the Festival of Creativity from 90 countries for the event, which will be held in a virtual format next week (21 to 25 June). That compares with 30,953 entries from 89 countries in 2019.

Cannes Lions organiser Ascential said the work comes from a broader mix of entrants than previous years, and across all Lions categories. Entries from independent agencies are up by 14%, and from production companies by 19%.

Ascential said the new Creative Business Transformation Lions, which celebrates "creativity that drives business forward", had a "strong first year". There were 15% more entries to the Titanium Lions, which recognises work that "breaks new ground with provocative, boundary-busting, envy-inspiring ideas", than in 2019.

Other categories to record growth in entry numbers include the Social & Influencer Lions (up 14%) and the Creative ecommerce Lions (up 12%).

However, entries to the the Creative Effectiveness Lions and the Creative Strategy Lions were down 38% and 20% respectively. Ascential said it suggests "companies have shifted to short-term strategy in the face of unprecedented circumstances", adding that "work that relies on long-term strategy and results appears to have been hit this year".

Simon Cook, managing director of Cannes Lions, said this was a moment for the industry "to reflect but also look forward".

"Bringing together this mass of work from across the globe to present to our juries is always an exciting moment for us. The work gives us an initial snapshot of the industry, before our expert juries take on the task of awarding the work that will set the new creative benchmark.

"This is a highly anticipated moment and the work across two years tells a story about the changing shape of creativity throughout the global pandemic, and showcases the power of creativity as a vehicle for change."

Shortlists and award announcements will be made on a daily basis from 21 to 25 June.

Ascential had intended to hold the 2021 event in person in the French town, but later announced it would be online-only, given the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

Phil Thomas, president of Ascential’s marketing division, which includes Cannes Lions, said: “We were happy [with the level of entries]. It was above what we expected.

“It was very, very hard to predict what was going to happen because you’ve got the two years together. We had a number of entries already in for 2020 and we didn’t know what they would want to do with those entries [in terms of entering them in this year’s awards].

“We’re happy to celebrate the work. We think the industry is really ready for it as well – to see some great work being celebrated.”

Peel Hunt, a stockbroker in London, said of the awards entries: “While the pandemic has halted the physical event again, it is encouraging to see strong demand for the awards element. When investors consider the recovery potential for the wider event, these numbers are a useful indicator of the attitude of the end market. This suggests the recovery track for Cannes Lions should be robust when the live event can be held.”

Ascential also runs Spikes in Asia as a joint venture with Haymarket, the owner of Campaign and PRWeek.

(This article first appeared on


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