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In Conversation with Terry Savage, Lions Festivals Chairman


Terry Savage is the Chairman of Lions Festivals, organisers of the world’s leading creative communication festivals. He took the helm of the company in 2003 and has since grown Cannes into the world’s most credible professional advertising event. Under his tenure, the company has founded the Dubai Lynx, followed by Spikes Asia in 2007, both of which have since risen to become the leading festivals in their respective continents. In 2013 he merged and relocated the Asia Marketing Effectiveness Awards and Digital Asia events from China into Singapore. SHP+ caught up with Savage at this year’s Spikes Asia in Singapore to discuss the changing nature of creativity, the status of his festivals worldwide, and his plans for returning to China.

Terry-Maria-1024x624Savage talks with SHP+’s Maria Laletina at Spikes Asia 2015 | 2015年Spikes Asia期间,萨维奇与来自SHP+的Maria Laletina对谈

How has Cannes evolved since you took over in 2003?

When I took over, everyone thought it was a party. The first year my ad campaign was ‘less beach, more work’. The next year it was ‘all work, no beach’, because you are not going to get sustained investment from agencies whose margins are being squeezed tighter into these shows unless there’s a real return, not just for the people there, but bringing it back home to the office and broadening the market. If I’d just rested on it being a festival for creatives, the festival would have shrunk, whereas in fact it has grown by 15,000 delegates with marketers and tech people and all sorts.

How has the nature of creativity in the events changed over the years?

Many people want us to focus on film, print, outdoor and the more traditional media but the reality of creativity is changing dramatically. Whether we like it or not, data and innovation is going to play an incredible role going forward. Nor can you dismiss the concept of effectiveness or e-commerce. It’s no longer just the narrow set of platforms that we’ve seen in the past; it’s multifaceted and that’s going to continue to grow.


You run the leading creative festivals in Europe (Cannes Lions), Asia (Spikes) and the Middle East and North Africa (Dubai Lynx). North America is already well catered for, but is there a reason why you’ve never gone into South America?

There’s still massive growth for Cannes year on year and we’re seeing growth here in Asia. We want to drive the vehicles we’ve already got to maximum impact, as opposed to just going everywhere and doing them less well. Every market we’re in, we’re a market leader and that’s where we want to be. We’re not about putting tent-poles in the ground for the sake of it. The motivating forces for going into Asia and Dubai were to use them as a conduit into the market place, as a marketing tool to create a level of engagement in those regions to drive more people to Cannes. In South America, Cannes is so well known that we get 800 Brazilian delegates and 150 Argentinian delegates. That imperative just isn’t there.

Dubai-Lynx-MEMAC-Ogilvy-1024x624Ogilvy celebrate at Dubai Lynx 2014.  The festival is the leading creative communication festival in the Middle East and North Africa. |  奥美在2014年迪拜国际广告节上举办庆祝活动。迪拜国际广告节是中东和北非地区重要的创意交流盛会


Why did you choose Singapore for Spikes?

For very simple reasons: it had great infrastructure, great hotels, great airline connections, it’s central and a lot of the regional head offices are here. When we first came here, the downside was that we didn’t think Singapore was very sexy, but that’s improved over the last eight years.


Did you consider China for Spikes?

Shanghai and Beijing are great markets, but they’re a six hour flight and not easy to get to for most of South East Asia. If we do something in China, it will be for China, not regional. China is it’s own market. We have learned that in China you’ve got to reflect what is happening there, that it’s a market that operates very differently from the South East Asian markets. It’s no good coming in and being a big western festival with western values in a market with a very unique approach and culture. If you’re going to do something, it has to be done in Chinese.


You previously held the Asia Marketing Effectiveness Awards (Beijing) and Digital Asia (Shanghai) events in China. Why did you discontinue them?

The problem was, they were in English because they were meant to be regional, but they were essentially becoming Chinese events – 80% of the delegates were Chinese, 100% of the sponsors were Chinese. I wasn’t pleasing the region, I wasn’t pleasing China – it was a schizophrenic event. I knew that they weren’t going to grow unless I made a bold decision; if we want to do something in China it’s got to be for China and make sure it’s focused and culturally embedded. As it was, I put them together and moved it to become a one-day event in Singapore (the Asia Marketing Effectiveness Awards).


What is your take on the Chinese presence at Cannes in recent years?

Last year we had an all-time record 330 delegates from China with a number of the big tech companies represented. But if you look at that number by comparison to the 2500 delegates we get from the US, then there is obviously potential for growth. Over the last couple of years, things have moved on very substantially. China is focusing on internal domestic consumption and that lends itself greatly to more creative advertising and more brand communication. We have the ability now to engage with really high-level speakers from China. There’s still a perception that China is a manufacturing center that copies, whereas anyone that goes there knows that’s not the case at all. There is some real creativity and innovation.

10 years ago, China won virtually nothing, but now we’re seeing them winning 17 Lions one year, 23 Lions the next, they’ve won two Grand Prix, Baidu won an innovation Lion at Cannes this year. They’re past the tipping point in terms of the levels of creative excellence. Now I think that’s got to spread from the 4A agencies into the emerging Chinese agencies.


Are you working on creating a new event in China?

Yes, we’ve been looking at it for a number of years. We clearly recognize that China is going to be a market of significant growth.   It’s a case of finding the right time, the right place and the right people to work with. When you have a brand like ours, you have to protect that and make sure that when you do enter the market it’s a cut above anything else that already exists. When, not if, we go in to China, we will make sure it’s a world-class show.


What is your assessment of the Chinese industry?

The big issue for China is that talent development is lacking; you do not have a natural conduit to develop people. You cannot continue to just believe that creativity is a natural instinct; it’s got to be developed and fine-tuned. I think that’s missing in all markets, but I specifically think China has a lot of work to do. There are probably too many expats still working in the agencies.

Chinese brands have huge opportunities for internal growth and have been driving that growth very strongly, but it will reach a point – and I think we’re very close to that point, maybe even moving past it in some industries – where they’re going to be looking at going outside and expanding internationally. We’re already seeing that happen with the likes of BlueFocus, and certainly the big tech companies won’t remain only in China.

We want to display to the world the great Chinese creativity, innovation and steps forward on the one hand, but also bring a level of expertise and content in from the west that China can absorb and apply within their own framework, culture and understanding.


* Savage will be appearing at the China Advertising Festival in Xi’An in October 2015.


泰瑞·萨维奇(Terry Savage)是戛纳Lions国际广告艺术节主席,以及众多世界领先的创意交流盛会的组织者。自2003年掌舵公司以来,他已将戛纳打造成为世界上最不可错过的专业广告节。在他的任期中,公司创办了迪拜国际广告节(Dubai Lynx)。紧随其后的是2007年创办的亚洲尖峰广告节(Asia Spike)——这两个广告界都在其所处的大洲成为了区域内重要的专业盛会。201年,他合并了亚洲市场营销效果奖(Asia Marketing Effectiveness Awards)和数字亚洲(Digital Asia)两个活动,将之移师新加坡。SHP+在新加坡的亚洲尖峰上遇到了萨维奇,和他讨论了创意的本质、他所举办的一系列活动的世界影响,以及关于回到中国的计划。

 terry savage maria


在我接手时,每个人都把它看做一个大派对。 第一年我的广告宣传主题是“更少沙滩,更多工作” (less beach, more work)。第二年变成了“全心工作,没有海滩”(all work, no beach’)。因为如果代理商不能从活动中获得真正的回报,他们的利润会被各种展览挤压,我们也无法得到代理们的稳定投资。并不仅仅是为了参加活动的代表们,也是为了他们将影响力带给公司,并且真正拓展市场。 如果我依旧把它视作一个供创意者们玩乐的节日,那这个节最终肯定会收缩规模。但事实上,现在它的规模已扩大到一万五千名代表,涵盖了市场营销、技术、以及其他领域。















你曾在北京举办市场营销效果奖(Marketing Effectiveness Awards),在上海举办数字亚洲(Digital Asia)。为什么没有将这两个活动进行下去?





十年前,在可见的奖项上,中国确实没有斩获,但如果我们现在来看,他们一年获得了17个Lions奖项,而第二年获得23个。他们获得了两个Grand Prix,而百度赢得了今年戛纳的创新奖。在杰出创意方面,他们已经度过了临界点。现在我认为创意正从4A公司涌向中国公司。










* 萨维奇将出席2015年10月在西安召开的中国国际广告节(China Advertising Festival)。

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