Cannes Lions Rules Awards Sector

Cannes Lions is king. The surge in the number of entries this year has made clear that the International Advertising Festival’s Cannes Lions awards have eclipsed the global popularity of the John Caples International Awards and the U.S. Direct Marketing Association’s Echo. Cannes Lions is becoming the pre-eminent international industry prize for creative and strategic excellence in direct and interactive marketing.

Entries in the Lions Direct category soared 33.5 percent this year to 1,614 from 1,209 submitted for last year’s awards. Cyber Lions entries were up 21.5 percent to 1,897 from last year’s 1,561, slightly below the 23 percent increase in Media Lions entries to 1,076 from 875.

“Both Lions Direct and Cyber Lions are fairly new categories, but it takes time to build a category to a certain level, and I think they’ve come of age this year,” said Terry Savage, CEO of the London-based festival owned by British publisher Emap. “I think we’ve stamped Lions Direct and Cyber Lions as the premier award event in those categories this year. It also is a recognition of the alternatives that people are looking for in their ad spend. People are looking for various ways to communicate with people, notwithstanding the fact that there is huge growth in the market.”

The annual ad festival, better known as Cannes Lions, introduced the Cyber Lions category in 1998 and Lions Direct in 2002. By contrast, the Caples Award was founded in 1978 and the Echo, in some form or another, has been around for more than 75 years.

Caples and the October-held Echos are the widely coveted international industry standards for creative and strategic excellence in direct and interactive marketing. But they are losing share to smaller, newer awards springing up in the United States, and to Cannes Lions abroad.

Last year, the DMA received 1,077 Echo entries, up marginally from 1,034 in 2003 and below the 1,113 submitted in 2002. Entries will be up 8 percent to 8.5 percent this year, said Echo chair Sid Liebenson, who is senior vice president and director of marketing at Draft, a Chicago-based direct and interactive agency.

February-held Caples also saw an increase this year to 1,055 from an estimated 950 in 2004 and down from 1,100 in 2003.

“Caples was up this year, Echo’s up and so’s Cannes Lions,” Liebenson said. “This could mean a couple of things. A lot of people are doing work worthy of recognition and that the economy is good enough that agencies are spending some money on so many awards shows.”

Andi Emerson, New York-based founder of Caples, is confident her show is holding its own against other awards, especially Cannes Lions.

“Only creatives can judge the Caples – not so in these other award shows where suits tend to rule,” Emerson said. “We already have more than 100 of our top-notch creatives flying into New York in November to judge together and then again in March for the ceremony – way more than they get going to Cannes.”

Still, the cachet of the Cannes Lions name now has equal allure to direct and interactive marketers compared with other awards. That it is more expensive to enter than Caples or Echo has not hurt submissions, either.

With direct and interactive’s help, Cannes Lions entries this year were up an overall 18 percent to 22,101 from 18,705 in 2004. Submissions to the outdoor category were up 16 percent to 4,667, and press was up 12 percent to 6,699. Radio Lions and the Titanium Integrated category for multichannel marketing campaigns were new categories this year. The entry tally for Radio Lions was 1,020, and Titanium totaled 133. Film, the No. 2 submissions category after press, received 2 percent fewer entries in 2005: 4,995 versus last year’s 5,082. But marketers should not jump to conclusions from this drop in television and theater ad submissions.

“Film is down 2 percent, but that should not be seen as a reflection in any way of the market because we closed the deadline for film earlier this year,” Savage said. “The number of overall entries was just so high. We extend the deadline most years, but we couldn’t do it this year.”

Delegates will cheer nominated entries and winners from 81 countries. U.S. agencies and advertisers submitted 3,046 entries this year – the most from any nation – including 418 for cyber, 94 for direct and 43 integrated campaigns for the Titanium.

The next-largest batch of entries came from Germany: 2,313, including 206 for direct, 200 for cyber and 15 for Titanium. France was third with 2,198 entries. Britain sent 1,698, including 244 for direct, 236 for cyber and 23 for Titanium. Spain sent 1,113 entries

Bulgaria, Latvia, Mozambique, Nepal and Pakistan each submitted an entry.

That said, it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison between Cannes Lions and its rival direct and interactive awards. Caples often is held up for its creative stamp of approval and Echo for its mix of creativity with marketing strategy and results.

“One of the reasons why Cannes Lions might be getting more entries than Echos is because they have more categories,” Liebenson said. “They have 25 categories for Lions Direct. So it’s possible to enter the same campaign in multiple categories. [Also] Echo is judged purely by the business category, and you can enter it only once. Caples is judged as a purely creative award and Echos as a marketer’s award, closer to an Effie’s than a One Show. But Cannes Lions is Cannes Lions. It translates from general to direct. I think it’s the reputation. It celebrates creativity, more than anything else.”

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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