Sorrell could can Cannes

30 June 2016

CANNES: Sir Martin Sorrell has voiced what many industry people are starting to feel about the Cannes Lions Festival – that it has become too big and unwieldy and that the expense involved may no longer justify attendance.

"I think there are some arguments that it's got too big and it's got too sort of hectic, and maybe has got oversized," the WPP CEO told Advertising Age. "Maybe because in the drive to cram revenue in the organisers have broadened it too far.

But he didn't – as some do – blame the proliferation of ad tech companies. Digiday noted a week ago, "For a festival of creativity, Cannes sure has a lot of ad tech companies on hand" but Sorrell observed that this was inevitable.

"The simple fact of the matter is whether you or I like or not, or whether the creative community likes it or not, our business has become more technologically related," he said.

And, he added, that particular community doesn't have a monopoly on the creative impulse. "The snottiness of believing that creativity just resides in the creative department of traditional agencies, that media people can't be creative, or data people can't be or people who do healthcare or promotion or CRM can't be creative – it's a nonsense and it's insulting to the people who are in those areas."

Sorrell welcomed the fact that the festival had widened its scope, taking in new categories like data and healthcare, but added that it had lost focus as a result. "I think that's one of the questions about Cannes; it becomes a mass networking event," he said.

"Maybe we take a breath and a pause, maybe stimulated by the results of the (Brexit) referendum, to think again, you know, what we do here and how we do it and, dare I say, whether we do participate or not … because it has become a very big exercise – a very expensive exercise."

Data sourced from Advertising Age, Digiday; additional content by Warc staff