Rethink for Media Lions scoring system after OMD Sydney’s surprise win

media agency of the yearThe Cannes Lions is to rethink its policy on how agencies are credited for the involvement in the Media Lions categories – but have stated that OMD Sydney, which was this year’s shock winner of the global media agency of the year award, is in no danger of having its trophy taken away.

omd media agency of the year

From left: Daryl Simm (Omnicom Media Group global CEO), Mainardo de Nardis (OMD global CEO), Steve Blakeman (OMD APAC CEO)

The move by the Cannes Lions appears to have been triggered by discontent among some agencies that OMD Sydney won the global title, despite the fact that it did not put in the winning entries itself. The victory came as a pleasant surprise to OMD itself, which had to asks members of the global management team pick up the trophy because no-one from Australia had attended.

OMD was helped across the line by the success of work for McDonald’s entered by sister Omnicom creative agency DDB which credited OMD as the media agency involved.

However, media agencies in other groups have complained that in similar circumstances they were not credited. Mumbrella understands that groups which have raised concerns have included WPP and Interpublic.

As well as deciding the media agency of the year title, points accumulated by agencies contribute to the Cannes global holding company of the year award which was won by WPP.

Overnight, the Cannes Lions issued a somewhat vague statement acknowledging there was an issue:

“9 July 2013 – Following the recent claims made by various media agencies about the volume of Lions won in Cannes, the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity wishes to make clear its position.

“Cannes Lions recognises the leading media agency with the award of Media Agency of the Year. That is the only official award it gives as it relates to a media agency compilation, and in 2013 it was awarded to OMD Sydney.

“Various companies have made claims about the number of Lions they were involved in winning, in doing so they may not have been the entrant company but would have been named in the secondary credits. Under the Cannes Lions Festival rules, these credits may be changed post Festival if the entrant company is in agreement with the proposed change.

“To date all claims that have been made have been validated by the Festival based on the entrant company being contacted and agreeing to the credit amendment. However, to clarify future claims of the number of Lions won, Cannes Lions will be reviewing the credit amendment policy.”

After Mumbrella queried what this meant for OMD, a spokesman said breifly: “OMD Sydney will not lose their award.”

The problem is particularly noticeable in the Media Lions category, where most winning entries tend to come from creative agencies which are more used to what it takes to create a jury-pleasing Cannes entry. As a result, media agency of the year – which the creative agencies are not eligible for – could go to a company that has not won anything at the awards in its own right.

The Media Lions, which launched in 1999, have been one of the most controversial categories for Cannes. Themedia agency of the year trophy was introduced in 2006.

In 2011, Starcom Mediavest CEO John Sintras and Mediabrands executive chairman Henry Tajer told Mumbrella that media agencies were “being set up to fail” in the category.

In 2012, there were widespread complaints of block voting which led to a shakeup of the jury system for the Media Lions. This in turn led to accusations from rival competition  New York Festivals that Cannes had stolen its methodology.

The furore comes in the same week that it emerged that the Caxtons newspaper creative awards was to have no event this year, and a month after MADC, Melbourne’s advertising awards announced it was suspending its program for 2013.


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