Cannes Chair Threatens To Ban German Judges From Festival

NEW YORK — A controversy over award show entries erupted in Europe last week, as Roger Hatchuel, chairman of the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, told the trade press he intends to ban German agency executives from participating on the Cannes juries next year.

The dispute began when another Hatchuel-owned awards-show property, the Eurobest Awards, was excluded from The Creative Index, a list of award shows 18 German agencies have agreed upon entering as a way to cut the cost of entry fees and create a level playing field for competing shops, said Carsten Heintzsch, executive creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi, Frankfurt, who acts as the spokesman for the agencies.

According to Heintzsch, Hatchuel announced to the German trade press on Friday last week that because Eurobest had been excluded from The Creative Index for a second year in a row, Germans would be banned from the judging at next year’s festival. Hatchuel would not take calls or comment through a representative at press time.

Heintzsch, along with executives from 10 other top German agencies, responded with a letter to Hatchuel, also released to the press on Monday, criticizing his apparent ultimatum regarding Cannes as a way to force agencies to enter Eurobest and calling for him to revoke the ban. The letter, which Heintzsch expected Hatchuel to receive today, said, in part, “We sadly recognize that you are giving evidence to all critics who say that your creative awards shows and the selection of your jury members… are abused for commercial purposes of your family.”

The appropriateness of The Creative Index is debatable, Heintzsch said on Tuesday, but defended its intention. “I think saving costs on awards shows is a sensible thing. We’re not sure if [the index] is the right way. Maybe we should think about other ways. That’s one thing, but threatening a country — and this could happen to other countries in the world-threatening a country in that way is not right,” he said. “This is old fashioned and a bit mafia, I think.”
Heintzsch said the German ad executives had no intention of adding the Eurobest awards to the index, but that he hoped they could reach an agreement with Hatchuel soon. If the situation escalates, he said, he predicts that many German agencies will boycott Cannes completely next year. “If we are not invited to be judges, we don’t feel invited at all.” But, he adds, “It’s a long time until March. I think we can work things out. Next week things will look different.”