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Source: Campaign, Adweek
Terry Savage, Cannes Lions’ longtime leader, chief spokesman, and a figure many viewed as the heart and soul of the global creativity festival, will be moving on after the 2018 event ends.
Savage has been associated with the Cannes Lions for 33 years, first representing Australia, then serving as CEO and finally chairman.
As a gauge of Savage’s success leading the festival, Cannes Lions had 16,392 entries in 2003, the year he was appointed as CEO. In 2016, entries reached a peak of 43,101. The 2017 festival brought in about US$82 million in revenue for Ascential – 7% higher than 2016 despite “slightly reduced” entry and delegate numbers, according to Ascential.
“I have given a large part of my life to Cannes Lions and enjoyed every minute,” Savage told Campaign Asia-Pacific. “I am embedded in creativity and want to use that passion to help others to also follow this path—which I will.”
The chairman’s departure comes at a time of reflection and change for Cannes following criticisms that the Festival has lost some of its creative focus and become too costly and excessive. In response, Cannes Lions consulted with industry players before announcing a wide array of changes for 2018, including a shortened five-day programme, a simplified award structure, plans to separate commercial and non-profit work and changes to pricing policies. Some, however, feel the moves don’t go far enough.
In a separate email sent to Adweek, a Cannes Lions spokeswoman said Savage is leaving to “help other organizations that have a thirst and hunger to understand creativity better.” She denied the decision has anything to do with Ascential‘s announcements of the major restructuring amid pressure from WPP and other major holding groups.
Savage, who noted his decision to leave was not taken lightly, also downplayed the notion that his departure was part of a wider signal to the industry that the Festival is willing to change to return to creative roots. “Those that do know me well will know that I embrace change and new directions,” he said, reiterating his past insistence that Cannes has always been a reflection of the industry but has not strayed from creativity.
Savage said his focus for the next six months will be on making the revised 2018 Festival a success. Beyond that, he would not divulge what will come next, but hinted that Cannes’ creative successes could be applied elsewhere.
Asked if he has any regrets about his decades-long leadership of the festival, Savage was unequivocal: “None that I will waste a second thinking about,” he said.