Creativity Always Sits at the Centre: Terry Savage

Terry Savage

With just a few days to the Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity, Arabian Marketer’s Sana Mahmud caught up with Terry Savage, Chairman, Lions Festival on the new conversations in creativity.

Playing home to fast growth markets, fusing the Middle Eastern and African cultures into local advertising fabric and leading global growth in digital, MENA has become a promising region for marketers globally. Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity, which according to festival organizers is a reflection of the changes in the industry, offers a stage to highlight and discuss some of these changes. Dubai Lynx is amongst six festivals organized by Lions Festival. The two elements that seem to stand out at the platform this year are digital and local.

The five-way focus
“Digital is more than a keyword, it is the industry,” remarks Terry Savage, Chairman, Lions Festival. He reminds that the industry today works in a global village. Much of this can be attributed to the growth in digital that has increased the rate of change, and evened out the playing field in many ways. “Digital-Data-Mobile-Social-Content – these are conversations being held in rooms in New York, Beijing, London, Sydney and Dubai. Our belief is overarching, that with all of the changes and opportunities, creativity sits at the centre. No matter what the platform, if it is ‘creative’, that is when you are able to connect or put a message through,” says Mr Savage.

Creativity in the connected world comes with its own challenges, especially when it comes to channels such as mobile that have the user base but still not enough instances that lend to brand building or storytelling. Mr Savage explains that while the level of work in the region is consistent with what is expected, it will get better. “UAE has won Lions in the past in the digital category. The fact is that, as The Philippines showed when they won the Grand Prix for Mobile in 2013, great work can come from anywhere, at any time.”

Dubai Lynx had added an Arabic stream this year and would also be featuring Arabic speakers. The new addition is reflective of the manner in which communication professionals have embraced induced local flavor in the work done for global brands.

The political instability in the region also raises concerns at times but Mr Savage points out that the region has seen growth in light of the prevailing difficulties. “Stability translates to economy and that has a direct impact on ad spends. I am sure that it has an impact on the region. But there is world class talent here. The creative growth has been massive, and an indicator of that is in the Lions count. UAE had a stellar year in 2013 with 23 Lions and backed up strongly again last year. Tunisia has had a sensational two years and Lebanon has started winning Lions. The region has a new confidence and quite justifiably so.”

The Big Picture
From Lions Festivals’ point of view, Dubai Lynx has also led to more participation in its flagship event Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, from both entries and delegates perspective. “While on the one hand it helps in bringing the ‘Cannes Lions’ kind of experience to those who would not make it to the Festival for various reasons, on the other hand, it encourages people to also experience the global platform and scale of Cannes Lions itself,” Mr Savage sums up.

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