NEW YORK: Brands have placed their advertising agencies under ever closer scrutiny this year and it appears agencies are responding to this and other pressures by cutting back on their budgets for next month’s Cannes Lions.

The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, due to take place in mid-June, is regarded as one of the most important dates in the industry calendar, yet according to the Wall Street Journal a series of agencies are exploring how to maximise the ROI they can expect from the week-long event in France.

The Journal reported that it has seen memos sent by an executive at WPP to its network of agencies, calling for expense accounts to be cut by 25% and for a list to be sent of the staff looking to attend.

"Our quest remains to be the leader at Cannes, with focused creative efforts, albeit with a smaller number of people physically in attendance," one of the memos read.

Dentsu Aegis also expects its delegation to Cannes will be "significantly reduced" from the 350 people it sent last year, while a source revealed that Interpublic is planning to cut costs by 10% from its original budget.

Meanwhile, Andrew Swinand, the CEO of Leo Burnett North America, said the company still intends to submit a lot of work at Cannes, but is taking a close look at its ROI.

"The idea of investment implies return," he said. "Investing and sending talent to learn from some of the best in the industry" might make sense, but investing thousands "to send someone to a party on a yacht for a week, what's the return?"

Havas is also taking a careful approach and an executive has already sent a memo to colleagues, urging them to "be very conscious of the cost implications of Cannes" in light of the way clients' budgets are changing along with consumer behaviour.

And one unidentified WPP agency is taking another approach, with a member of staff revealing that it would cut back on the number of entries it submits and only enter campaigns "we thought we had a very legit chance of winning".

For those still planning to attend Cannes, WARC is hosting an all-day session on Thursday 22nd June, which will include insights into the future of planning as well as analysis of some of the leading campaigns in this year's WARC 100 rankings.

There is also a separate panel discussion about how TV and social can be used to maximum effect that will take place the previous evening.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by WARC staff