Poor turnout allows Cannes to put Lions Direct in main event

The organisers of the Cannes International Advertising Festival have merged the first Cannes Lions Direct show into the main event, owing to poor attendance.

Attendance at the main event is thought be down on last year, enabling the organisers to move the timing of the Direct strand of the festival forward. It was to have taken place between Sunday 23 June and Tuesday 25 June, the week after the main festival.

Instead, the Cannes Lions Direct will run on the Thursday and Friday of the previous week. It will be opened by the direct marketing legend Lester Wunderman and seminars are planned from agencies including OgilvyOne, Rapp Collins and Leonardo.

Attendance at the Direct festival is thought to be lower than expected, meaning there is capacity to accommodate delegates during the main Cannes week. The Lions Direct awards will still run, with the results now announced on Friday 25 June. Organisers said they have received around 1,200 direct entries.

The Cyber Lion competition, which was launched in 1998, will also remain within the main show. The original plan had been to hold the Cyber Lion awards at the same time as the Direct strand.

An agency source said: "They (the organisers) have had trouble getting enough people there. Senior people in the big communications groups have not found it amusing that there is the additional expense of sending people the following week. This is a sign that they originally organised it incorrectly but you have to give them credit for getting it right now."

Franz Prenner took over as chief executive of the festival earlier this year, following the departure of Romain Hatchuel to Euro RSCG.