Here's Everything We Know So Far About The Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity 2024

Kelcie Gene Papp

February 7, 2024

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Bonjour mes amis en marketing de marque. As the currently-not-so-sun-kissed shores of the Côte d’Azur prepare for Cannes Lions 2024, we’re very interested in the 71st edition of adland’s most glamorous event. Why? With Simon Cook now CEO of  LIONS: The Home of Creativity, which the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity sits under, and with Ascential plc's ownership, the festival will be looking to navigate the fine balance between celebrating creative triumphs and addressing the industry's most pressing issues.

LIONS: The Home of Creativity represents a dynamic repositioning of the Cannes Lions brand. It extends beyond the annual Festival of Creativity to offer a comprehensive suite of advisory, learning, and intelligence services. This initiative supports creative professionals in their career journey, emphasising the ongoing need for creativity and innovation in the industry. LIONS Membership, priced at €299 + Sales Tax (€209 + Sales Tax for those under 30), grants access to resources, although it's separate from The Work subscription.

And, we’re intrigued. Very intrigued. From seeing how the festival will embrace wellness to what the the week will look like with the new umbrella of LIONS: The Home of Creativity. It feels 2024 is going to be pretty historic for the festival.

When do Cannes Lions 2024 Award Submissions Open? 

On January 17th, 2024, award submissions open. And, although the speakers have not yet been announced, (last year this was unveiled in March) the game is afoot. Festival partners and advertisers so far? Check them out here. Entry Kit? 120-pages which you can download here.

In 2023, on seeing a surge in AI-integrated entries, Cook, noted "The shifts in the work that’s been entered provide us with a powerful insight into the industry landscape." Looking ahead to Cannes Lions 2024, we can’t help but think: How will the festival evolve in embracing new creative technologies? And what will be the impact on submission diversity, particularly from non-traditional sectors and independent creators?

So, here’s everything we know:

When is Cannes Lions 2024?

The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, often hailed as the Oscars of the advertising world, is set to unfold its 71st edition from June 17 to 21, 2024. Traditionally held in Cannes, France, this prestigious event marks a gathering of the most innovative and creative minds in the marketing, advertising, and communication industries.

Who Owns Cannes Lions?

Cannes Lions is owned by Ascential plc, a leading international business-to-business media company. Ascential specialises in organising high-profile events, conferences, and festivals, particularly in the media, digital, and creative sectors.

Previously known as EMAP, their portfolio includes a range of influential brands and events. Some key assets and operations of Ascential include:

Product Design: This includes WGSN and START by WGSN.

Marketing: Their marketing segment includes Cannes Lions, Medialink, WARC, and Siberia.

Sales: This category includes Edge by Ascential, Money 20/20, World Retail Congress, Retail Week, and Flywheel.

Built Environment and Policy: This comprises DeHavilland, Glenigan, and Groundsure.

Additionally, Ascential plc's acquisition of Contagious Communications, a creative insights firm, into its marketing portfolio alongside LIONS and WARC, presents both opportunities and challenges. Positively, this integration could enrich the Cannes Lions Festival with deeper insights and trend analysis, potentially elevating the event's content. However, there's a concern that the festival's focus might shift, possibly impacting its traditional appeal and character. The key question is how this acquisition will balance enhancing the festival's offerings while maintaining its core identity.

The ownership of Cannes Lions under Ascential secures the event as a pivotal hub for business development, networking, and the latest industry insights. This strategic ownership ties the festival closely to the pulse of the evolving global market, business trends, and the ever-changing dynamics of the creative industries.

What's the Spirit Behind Cannes Lions this Year?

Cannes Lions stands as an iconic symbol of creative excellence in the global marketing and communications industry. Since its inception in 1954, the festival has evolved into a multifaceted event, attracting professionals from advertising agencies, brands, tech firms, and media companies. It's a stage where creativity is celebrated, critically examined, and nurtured.

The awards at Cannes Lions are highly coveted, setting a benchmark for innovation and excellence in various creative fields. However, in recent years, the cost of participation and the competitive nature of the awards have led to discussions about accessibility and inclusivity.

While the festival highlights outstanding work and trends, some argue that the high entry fees for submissions and the expensive nature of attending the event might limit opportunities for smaller or less financially robust creative entities.

Despite these concerns, Cannes Lions continues to be a significant event in the creative calendar, offering unrivalled networking opportunities and insights into the evolving landscape of creative communications.

The awards? A cornerstone of the festival, recognise and honour the most creative and effective advertising, communications, and marketing work from around the world, setting the standard for innovation and excellence in the field.

This event? Often compared to the Oscars in its field, promises to be more than just a grand celebration of creativity; it's shaping up to be a pivotal moment in embracing diversity and innovation and addressing some of the pressing issues facing the industry today.

However, the Cannes Lions Festival has also faced significant criticism, particularly regarding its environmental impact. A notable moment of controversy occurred when an activist and former award winner protested during the opening ceremony to emphasise the climate crisis. Discussions have also arisen about the inclusivity of the festival, considering the high cost of attendance and environmental implications of business travel.

Additionally, there has been debate about the festival's content and award ceremonies, with suggestions for improvements to enhance their appeal, reflecting the industry's growing focus on climate awareness and purpose-driven campaigns.

What Can We Expect?

Scheduled for 17–21 June 2024 the 71st edition of the Oscars of the Ad world is set to introduce several new and exciting features and initiatives. Here’s what we know so far; key highlights include:

  1. Luxury & Lifestyle Lions: A new category called the Luxury & Lifestyle Lions has been introduced, recognising the transformation and disruption in the creative marketing of luxury brands.

    The Luxury & Lifestyle Lions at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2024 will celebrate and recognise creative excellence in luxury goods and experiences. With a focus on aspirational lifestyle, this category aims to set new benchmarks in luxury sector creativity, including business model evolution and transformation.

    Judging criteria will emphasise creative ideas, strategy, execution, and results. Categories include Experience, Sustainable Luxury, Craft, 360 Campaigns, Data and targeting, Brand Storytelling, Transformation, Partnerships/Collaborations, Technology, Social Campaign, Diversity, Equity and inclusion, and Commerce.

    Each category aims to highlight different aspects of luxury brand communication and engagement.
  1. Revamped PR Lions and New Humour Category: The PR Lions category has been revamped, and a new humour category has been introduced, focusing on wit and satire to create memorable connections with audiences. This change is based on feedback from industry leaders.
  2. Retirement of Mobile Lions: The Mobile Lions category has been retired. However, mobile-first thinking remains integral across various Lions categories, but it will no longer have a standalone category.
  3. Increased Focus on AI and Cultural Context: A new mandatory question requires entrants to disclose the use of AI in their work. Additionally, a cultural context question has become compulsory for entry, encouraging entrants to explain the relevance of their work for a specific brand, market, and moment in time.
  4. Expanding Accessibility and Diversity: Cannes Lions 2024 is allocating €1 million in complimentary passes to support underrepresented and underserved communities, including registered charities, not-for-profit, and diverse-owned organisations.

    The festival is also introducing new pass options like the Start-Up Pass and Connector Pass to cater to varied needs.
  1. Call for Content and Speaker Applications: The festival has opened its annual Call for Content, inviting proposals from talents worldwide until 5 January 2024. This open call aims to provide a global platform for diverse creative voices.
  2. Scholarships and Talent Programs: The LIONS Scholarship and the See It Be It talent accelerator program for women and non-binary candidates continue, offering opportunities for mentorship, masterclasses, and participation in the festival.
  3. Focus on Creativity and Impact: The festival's agenda will continue to prioritiSe creativity, with a special focus on showcasing outstanding work and exploring the business case for creativity.

As Cannes Lions 2024 beckons, it's clear that the festival is set for a historic turn under new leadership, embracing diversity, innovation, and wellness. This anticipation and evolving dynamics under Ascential plc's stewardship signals a transformative era for the festival.

The spotlight on AI and emerging trends from the previous year set the stage for a celebration that's not just about creative triumphs but also a reflection of the industry's journey. This evolution pays homage to the unyielding and dynamic nature of the creative industry, ushering in a fresh chapter for the storied Cannes Lions legacy.

The only question left to ask is, will you be there?

Brand Marketing. Executive-level.