O&M threatens to pull out of Cannes

Neil French, the worldwide creative director for Ogilvy & Mather,

has announced that the network is to boycott this year's Cannes

International Advertising Festival. The news coincides with the

Festival's appointment of the Austrian born Franz Prenner as the

successor to its chief executive, Romain Hatchuel.



French, who has a maverick reputation, said the network would not be

submitting any entries for this year's Cannes Lions as he was unhappy

with the awards' new focus on tracking down "scam" ads.



French said: "I am in principle opposed to anything like that. I think

it is disgusting. By nature it focuses the jury on witch-hunting rather

than looking for good work. I am against this politicisation of

advertising. By doing this they exclude small agencies and you don't

even know if you have been excluded."



Last year the network submitted approximately 1,500 pieces of creative

work for judging; if the boycott holds true, it will be depriving the

event of $500,000 in submission fees. A boycott would also see

the Festival deprived of the registration fees for a slice of O&M's

delegates - the network sent 175 in 2001.



French had been in talks with Hatchuel over his objections to the

blacklist.



"He wouldn't back down," he said. "I went to all my agencies and asked

them what they thought. They all thought it sucked and said let's pull

out. So we are and we will continue to do so as long as the blacklist is

in place. Unless they scrap this, we're not interested. Now Hatchuel's

resigned, we have to see if they carry it on."



Last year's jury president, Saatchi & Saatchi's Bob Isherwood,

introduced "The President's Log" - a list of entrants guilty of

submitting work that has never run. French added: "Ogilvy was not on the

list. The fact we are exceedingly kosher in the way we do things allows

me to take this stand. People say 'this is a small client and it ran

once in a small magazine and therefore it's not worthy to be judged'. I

take grave exception to that. This is a growing trend and it just has to

stop. If you have a client, and he has paid you for the ad, and it has

appeared - then I can't see the problem."



At present it seems that O&M will be making a lone stand on this issue

with no other networks joining French in his action.



Hatchuel has decided to pursue his own interests in Paris. His father,

Roger Hatchuel, remains the chairman of the Festival. Prenner, who was

approached for the chief executive's task last summer, comes from an

agency background but was most recently the managing director of ORF

Enterprise, the sales house of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation.



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