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Cannes Lions Award Entries Down 38% Compared to 2016 High



Whether a matter of time, cost or combination of other factors, the ad world isn’t submitting as much work to the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity as in the past.

This year, award entries were down about 1% compared to last year—not a significant decline.

But looking back to 2016, which holds the record for most submissions ever, reveals a downward trend. Indeed, when comparing 2024 with 2016, award entries have decreased a significant 38%.

From one year to the next, volume can drop for a variety of reasons.

In 2018, for example, Publicis Groupe paused its participation in award festivals to focus on developing its artificial intelligence platform Marcel. Cannes Lions estimated Publicis’ absence contributed to an 8% drop in entries that season.

That same year, Cannes Lions restructured the event, introducing two new categories (Creative Ecommerce and Sustainable Development Goals) and retiring three (Cyber, Integrated and Promo & Activation).

A Cannes Lions spokesperson stated in an email that the traditional categories that make up the bulk of entries have declined since 2016: Print & Publishing, for instance, has fallen from 3,777 entries to 734.

“The newer categories, which reflect the work of modern agencies and other brand partners, don’t drive anything like that number of entries—Creative Business Transformation, for instance, or the Innovation Lions, while they highlight the future of the industry, receive a fraction of the traditional categories’ historical entry numbers,” the spokesperson wrote.

But certain categories are growing, said Simon Cook, chief executive of Cannes Lions.

“We’ve seen continued growth in the Creative Effectiveness Lions, which has received the highest number of submissions since its launch in 2011, demonstrating that there’s a strong commitment to creativity as a growth driver,” Cook said in a statement.

Cook also noted that entries from brands and media owners increased 6% and 31%, respectively, showing the “breadth of investment in creativity across the full spectrum of branded communications.”

Despite the overall decline in award submissions, Cannes Lions is doing well in other key areas.

Last year, Cannes Lions partnered with 110 sponsors, who paid an average of $329,147 (£260,000), according to an annual report from parent company Ascential. The number of attendees also grew 9% to more than 12,000. In total, the festival generated $129 million (£101.8 million) in 2023, up 30% compared to 2022.

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