Attendance may have been down – and not solely due to Publicis’ decision to (mostly) sit out the festival – but many at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity this year noticed a positive change.

PHD Media worldwide strategy and planning director Mark Holden told Adweek he thought it was good that Cannes was “a bit smaller this year”, with “a refocus on what’s really important, which is creativity.”

In recent years, Holden said, he felt “that focus on creativity was getting quite marginalised,” and “that creative element was there but was just getting buried under everything else.”

Some see a connection between the Cannes Lions’ renewed focus on creativity and Publicis’ decision to not devote its own resources to awards shows while building up its Marcel platform.

While Publicis CEO Arthur Sadoun told Adweek they “don’t want to take any credit” for the shift, he said he had heard that Publicis’ decision to ‘pause’ awards show submissions influenced the direction of the festival.

As far as its Marcel offering is concerned, even Sadoun admits Publicis has a way to go until it is fully operational.

Holden said he helped PHD build up its own platform called Source. While it has taken years, he said Source has proven to be a success, with around 2,000 people on the platform weekly and 77,000 ideas generated last year.

“Publicis have one hell of a road ahead of them,” Holden concluded. “To wrap this thing up takes so much work.”

The full article is authored by Erik Oster, Lindsay Rittenhouse and Patrick Coffee for Adweek.com