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Controversial Cannes ad tells firms to send ‘worst employees’

This year’s Cannes Lions Festival kicks off in June, but the organisers have already courted controversy with a series of ads urging firms to send their ‘worst employees to the festival, as its ‘cheaper than severance’.

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Created by McCann London, the ad series runs as print ads and online videos encourages firms to think of attendance as an investment in creativity.

The ads aim to be tongue–in-cheek but it remains to be seen if the message backfires and attendance is seen as a punishment rather than a reward for delegates.

The series features a number of different agency and client types, such as the account director who "breaks creative spirit," the VP of marketing who's never signed off one creative idea, the strategist who has little to show for her seven years at the agency, the producer who says every idea is impossible, and the creative team who failed to live up to their promise.

The campaign, shot by photographer Dan Burn-Forti, will also include print ads in national newspapers and trade magazines and digital activity until the festival, running June 21-27.

"Although our campaign is humorous, it makes a very sensible point. Why should being a Cannes Lions delegate be the preserve of the already excellent?" says Rob Doubal, co-president and chief creative officer of McCann London. "If we really want a more creative world, as we all profess, we should also be encouraging the not-so-excellent performers to be inspired by Cannes Lions."

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