Live events like concerts and trade shows do not translate well to online formats, a factor that has devastated many businesses in the sector since COVID-19 began to ravage and kill people last March.
Cannes Is Not Exactly Roaring Like A Lion
Cannes Lions’ London-based parent company Ascential issued its full-year 2020 financials this week, noting that the Festival will likely be a hybrid digital-live format, with in-person attendance on the ground in Cannes “if possible.”
The awards portion of the event, which will judge two years’ worth of entries given last year’s cancellation, will now be “fully digital,” versus the on-site program organizers optimistically and prematurely spelled out just two months ago.
The firm’s cash flow from continuing operations took a major hit last year, falling more than 70%. Overall revenue was down 31%. Revenue from the company’s marketing division, which includes Cannes Lions, research unit WARC, and media/marketing consultant MediaLink was down 60%
South by Dot Dot Dot
Willie Nelson is providing the Keynote Speech today at SXSW. For four hundred bucks, you can hear what the originator of “outlaw country” has to say (plus you can enjoy a whole lot more online programming for your money).
Marketplace from NPR wondered if people were excited to participate in this year’s virtual format.
Farooq Malik, a fintech entrepreneur, bought a platinum badge in 2019 to get him into everything at SXSW, including panel discussions about emerging technology. Those badges go for more than $1,700. This year, he asked, “What’s the point?”
“You lose all of that now because, I mean, I can see a name on a Zoom call, but I know nothing about that person,” Malik said, “other than that they’re there. And I don’t even know if they’re actually there, right? Because, I mean, I’ve been on Zoom calls, and I’ve turned my camera off. And I’m not actually there.”
For the information workers of the world (who have had more Zoom calls in the past year than they can count or care to recall), the idea of more screen time is far from appealing. We need real human interaction in shared physical space, and we need it now. We need to be around one another again. We need to share and be supported by our colleagues, friends, family, and neighbors.
The fallout from COVID-19 is intense. Stress levels for many people working at home are skyrocketing. Yes, people are managing, but managing is not thriving. Managing is treading water, and one can only tread water for so long.
Venue Owners and Staff Are Reeling
It is St. Patrick’s Day today. Normally on this day, urban Austin is overrun with UT students, SouthBy badge holders, and people in green looking to party. Not today.
Cody Cowan, the Red River Cultural District‘s executive director, said, “Ninety-eight percent of the people I know have been unemployed for a year now, and our industry has been surviving off of fumes.”
The cultural district has been helping venues and workers in the industry throughout the pandemic.