The Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the ad industry's major awards festival and conference held in France each summer, is postponing its June gathering due to the coronavirus, organizers announced Wednesday.
The festival, originally scheduled for June 22 through 26, is now planned for Oct. 26-30. Conference organizers said earlier that passes, sponsorship arrangements and bookings will roll over and remain valid.
"The decision comes following much deliberation with our partners and customers, as well as, consultation with public health officials, the mayoral office of Cannes and the French Authorities," the festival's organizers said in a statement. "Although we have sound mitigation plans, we shall continue to monitor this situation carefully and continue to engage closely with our customers, as we start to work in collaboration to ensure we can recognize the world's best creativity in 2020."
Last week, as the virus was spreading in countries like Italy, whose border is about 40 miles from Cannes, conference organizers said that French authorities had advised a ban on gatherings over 1,000 people would be lifted on April 15. On Friday, French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the country was tightening restrictions on public gatherings by banning groups of more than 100 people, and earlier this week President Emmanuel Macron ordered the French to stay at home for at least the next 15 days.
The postponement comes as countries take increasingly strict steps to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Cannes Lions was scheduled to take place a month after the Cannes Film Festival. The film festival's organizers said over the weekend they didn't anticipate making a decision on whether to cancel until April, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Moving the Cannes ad conference to October will create some congestion for the industry's important events. Advertising Week New York is scheduled for early October, while the Association of National Advertisers' "Masters of Marketing" conference, typically highly attended by brands' top marketers, is scheduled for Oct. 20-23 in Orlando, Florida.
This year's festival was expected to bring presentations from Amazon and Netflix for the first time, with sessions from Claudine Cheever, Amazon's global head of brand and advertising, and Jean Tanis, Netflix's global marketing creative lead. Other big names on the schedule include Microsoft's Kathleen Hall, Molson Coors' Michelle St Jacques, Procter & Gamble's Marc Pritchard and Burger King's Fernando Machado.
Organizers said the festival's awards would be given out during the new October dates, and the festival is planning to extend the deadline and eligibility date.