Protesters yelled “extinction” and “we won’t have a future” as they were carried away by French police.
Festival organizers had originally extended an invitation to the group to participate in the Lions in an official capacity, but where ultimately denied by the French authorities.
Protesters dropped a banner with the words “Tell the Truth” from the Church of Our Lady of Esperance which overlooks the Palais before blocking the main entrance to the event a few hours later. They linked arms and sat on the steps chanting “We are in the 6th mass extinction,” and “If we don’t act now, the biodiversity on which we depend will collapse.”
Extinction Rebellion are demonstrating against “the business as usual mentality and the idea that talking about climate change can be profitable and not addressing the issue, and the fact that they guide consumer choices, face on,” she said, adding: “It isn’t a case of blaming individuals for not doing enough, but encouraging the industry to be on the right side of history. “The group almost had a chance to appear at the Festival officially; members met with the CEO of Cannes Lions, Phil Thomas, before the Festival started. Thomas told Ad Age he received a phone call from the group last week, having earlier reached out to them, and met with four of them, including William Skeaping, a former employee of McCann London, who is playing a key role in the Cannes activity. “We had a glass of rosé together, and I liked them very much,” he says.
According to Thomas, he offered them a platform at the Festival on the main stage, and to introduce them to “anyone they wanted in the industry” and they had agreed to that. However, he said, the “fly in the ointment” with that plan was that Cannes Lions had to inform the French authorities who have a clear rule about the organizations that appear in the Palais. They didn’t grant permission, and so he had to withdraw the offer.
The spokeswoman for the group said they were disappointed Cannes Lions had then “pulled back” on support for them, but Thomas said there was nothing he could do. “We agree with their message and what they are saying, and I would encourage them to engage in a dialogue with the ad industry. I would still be up for talking with them in future, but in this case, it’s up to the Cannes authorities and the Mayor of Cannes.”
Skeaping meanwhile tweeted: “This has been a very strange week so far… I came hoping we could get the advertising industry to help tell the truth about the climate and ecological emergency but now have a sinking feeling that we’re totally fucked. Currently researching property prices in Northern Sweden.”
Cannes Lions issued a short official statement about the arrests: “We are aware of the small protest which occurred today here in Cannes. Festival Security and local authorities have managed the situation and events are continuing to run as normal.”