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Pros and Cons of Moving Events Online

Many conferences towards the end of Q1, were postponed and then cancelled. A few events have chosen to go on line. There are many online talks and webinars, but let’s face it, there have always been LOTS of online talks to attend but during life pre COVID-19 there was NEVER ENOUGH time to attend these talks. Now, we have almost “all the time in the world” but we have to choose wisely so as to not be left feeling drained from an hour webinar where you have not learned anything. Many of these talks say the same things, use the same buzzwords, have the same inconclusive summaries...yawn...

It is going to be fascinating to see how online events are executed and how well they are attended. The 'first round' of online conferences will be leading the charge and we will all learn ALOT from the organizers, on what went well and what needs to be improved upon for round 2.

NAB has created its online experience with NAB Express and the lovely Team at MESA is going online with their Spring HITS West Coast. Cannes Lions is going LIVE and it’s FREE to join. Just BYO rose ;) Plus, AICP will be launching its first ever online show in June, although no virtual basecamp.

So many people head to La Croissette each year for Cannes Lions, but don’t necessarily buy delegate passes to the Palais. By launching Lions Live - Creativity Matters, with FREE ACCESS to all, it will be interesting to see the number of people (and what job descriptions), sign up to the online event. If done right, (and assuming the world hasn’t completely ‘lost it’ by June and we are not in a severe global depression), there will be more registered delegates to the online event than to the ‘real deal’. The trick will be for Cannes to engage these “newbies” for the physical event in 2021. Which, depending on the state of the world and the absolute desire for human interaction (and cheap travel) might not be that difficult a target to achieve…

Anyway, let's look at the pros and cons for events moving online, main focus Cannes Lions :)


  • Increase in delegates as no-longer cost prohibitive (no travel no delegate pass, no time away from family or dog)

  • FREE to attend many of the online conferences

  • Finally able to experience Cannes Lions without a ridiculous struggle with your CFO to approve the trip (we have ALL been there)

  • See some of your professional idols speak about topics you are passionate about from the comfort of your home office

  • Access to view all nominated creative content – this is worth it’s weight in gold

  • No awkward conversations with new contacts (how ever 'extroverted we are, it's sometimes super hard to break that ice)

  • No embarrassing moments from that ‘one too many’ glasses (or magnums) of rose

  • Sleep. You won’t be schmoozing all hours in the South of France so you won’t be sleep deprived

  • No real jet lag

  • No 'Cannes Flu'

  • No need to frantically RSVP for all the ‘must attend” pool parties and cocktail hours

  • No need to dress to impress (at least not the whole body)


  • Impossible to network online – even with the best conference apps in the world, a certain “je ne sais quoi” is lost purely with texting, emailing and, dare I say it, with zoom calls.

  • Difficult to engage with fellow delegates in a meaningful way

  • Attention span is short anyway, so when online, despite having access to all the amazing content it’s going to be tough to

  • Even if you BYO rose and turn the heat up, sitting at home (or garden) wherever you are in the world, is just not the same as being in Cannes for a week

  • No random Cannes moments where you bump into the person you have been wanting to meet in forever (Carlton Terrace)

  • No catching up with colleagues and friends you haven't seen for a whole year

Many in person conferences, although incredibly well executed with amazing content, can have their questionable moments - in a talk where the speaker is simply selling his/her business rather than educating the crowd; in an unnerving ‘last forever 20 minute’ coffee break where you don’t seem to be able to break ice with anyone – we’ve all been there.

Perhaps online conferences are the way to go. We can pause when we lose interest in a talk, we can ask questions via the group chat without having to look like a fool, it doesn’t matter if we turn up after KO, we are still allowed access to the content, there are no awkward silences with the new business contacts you’ve just made. Plus, no potential embarrassing moments and conversations after one too many glasses of rose. Think about it – sexual harassment will be down 10 fold...! Take that ‘Gutter Bar’…!

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