Cash-strapped UK shops shun Cannes ad festival

London's top agencies are responding to the downturn in advertising by staying away from Cannes, sending only a fraction of their staff to the festival on official business.

Last year, most Top 20 agencies paid for at least two staff to attend the official proceedings at the International Advertising Festival. But this year, with overall attendance figures thought to be down 20 per cent on last year's 9,000 delegates, those already frugal numbers have been slashed again, with some agencies deciding against sending anyone at all.

No-one from Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Ogilvy & Mather, Publicis, Bates UK, Grey Worldwide and HHCL & Partners is being sent to represent the agencies.

Despite McCann-Erickson bucking the trend and increasing the number of paid-for staff in Cannes from six in 2001 to ten this year, most agencies are limiting places to one or two key individuals. TBWA/London has slashed last year's contingent of 17 to seven. J. Walter Thompson is sending four, Euro RSGC three, Bartle Bogle Hegarty, BMP DDB and Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R two apiece, and WCRS and Lowe just one each. Two will attend from M&C Saatchi, although they will pay for the excursion themselves.

Saatchi & Saatchi is sending a team of eight, including a team who won an internal competition within the creative department. Saatchis' executive creative director, Dave Droga, said it was important to expose teams to the wide range of international work on show. "They work hard all year and deserve to go, he said. D'Arcy also operates a similar initiative; two of its six-strong Cannes delegation are creative staff.

However, creative directors in London are anticipating reduced departments next week as teams make their own way to the week-long festival.

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