Cannes Lions: Changes to awards and speculation about IPO

Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity announces changes to awards and is apparently considering an IPO.

Regarding awards, the festival announced two changes on Monday: "Press Lions" will be renamed "Print & Publishing Lions." "With the renaming, we are aligning the award with developments in the print and publishing world," said Awards Director Simon Cook. Press Lions was introduced in 1992. Press, the second oldest category at Cannes, was introduced in 1992 as "Press & Outdoor" and split into two separate categories in 2002.

The second prominent change: "Digital Craft" will be separated from the two categories "Cyber" and "Mobile" and become a stand-alone award. Terry Savage, Chairman Lions Festivals, on this move: "The Cyber and Mobile juries have told us that with the steady increase in UX (User Experience) and Craft-focused submissions, there is a need for experts from these fields to sit on the jury. We have therefore decided to separate the category and give this specific area its own jury. This step will also relieve the very labor-intensive "cyber" jury work".
The new category is designed to evaluate and reward the creative and craftsmanship behind content - including design, technical execution and overall experience - across all digital platforms and devices.

Other changes to the awards include the "Product Design" category, whose subcategories have been expanded and revised. The "Titanium & Integrated Lions" will be split into two independent categories. The "Design Lions" will receive the category "Experience Design" and the "Outdoor Lions" will be expanded to include a large "Digital Outdoor" section. Entries can be submitted from January 21, 2016.

Speculation about IPO

According to British Specialist media the owner of Cannes Lions, the Ascential Group, which until recently was called Top Rights Group, is toying with an IPO. Experts see the renaming and other maneuvers as preparation for a later IPO. The Ascential Group is owned by the investment firm Apax Partners and the Guardian Media Group, which publishes The Guardian newspaper, among others. According to both have been saying for some time that they want to part with the Cannes owner. Guardian Media Group has already sold 80 percent of its Auto Trader subsidiary on the stock exchange at very good prices in 2015. The Ascential Group is extremely successful and in 2014 made a profit of the equivalent of around 120 million Swiss francs - of which around 80 million Swiss francs went into the account of Lions Festivals, the company to which, in addition to Cannes Lions, Eurobest also belongs, among others. An IPO would presumably raise and £1 billion, putting the investment of the 2008 purchase back into the owners' coffers. (hae)

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