O&M Withdraws Cannes Festival Boycott Threat

21 February 2002

The recent threat by WPP’s Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide not to participate in this years Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival [WAMN: 25-Jan-02] has been withdrawn after “extensive conversations” with the event’s new jury president Jeff Goodby, co-chairman of San Francisco agency Goodby Silverstein & Partners.

The threat was uttered by O&M’s global creative director, Singapore-based Neil French, peeved by events at last June’s festival when two winning entries from his Singapore office were probed and subsequently cleared of allegations that they were scam ads – ie, never aired for real clients in real campaigns.

His ire was exacerbated after hints that the 2002 event would include a ‘black list’ of agencies which submitted apparent scam ads last year. Fulminated French to UK ad trade weekly Campaign: “I think it is disgusting. By nature it focuses the jury on witch-hunting rather than looking for good work. I am against this politicisation of advertising.”

But French simmers no longer after his soothing conversation with Goodby. “We are ... totally convinced that the jury this year will have strong instruction to concentrate solely on judging the work that has been entered. We have great faith in Jeff's reputation for fairness and passion for creative work, [and] that the judges will not be prejudiced in any way.”

The sigh of relief emanating from bistros, bars and three star Michelin establishments throughout Cannes could be heard in Des Moines.

Data sourced from: AdAgeGlobal.com; additional content by WARC staff