LONDON – Cannes Lions, the most anticipated and consequential advertising and media gathering, has been forced to be  virtual for another year.

But this year’s offering will be much more robust, explains Philip Thomas, CEO of Cannes Lions and head of the events business at Ascential.

The biggest change is that the Lions, the awards themselves, will be back after a two year hiatus.

This year’s digital offering will include the awards along with its judges and winners, a deep dive into the creative “work.”  It’s all part of a yearlong digital pass for the Festival and other content for a $250 subscription.  Thomas says the deep content offering makes the essence of the Festival much more widely accessible.

Of course, the networking at events can’t be fully replicated on line, but Thomas hopes some of the networking and casual meetings will take place in a virtual world enabled by software from Spatial Web.   The plan allows all registered guests to assume an identity or avatar.

The Spatial Web software was used for a virtual party for 700 at  CES ’21 hosted by MediaLink, a division of Ascential.

Speaking of MediaLink, Thomas said that it is working on a plan to mark the festival in New York during the week of June 21, but noted that plans have not been finalized.

Thomas also spoke about the company’s investment in Hudson MX, an enterprise solution for advertising agencies and others to manage inventory and operations.   Ascential is the largest shareholder of Hudson MX.