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Block voting in Media Lions might not have happened, says Cannes Lions boss Terry Savage

Terry SavageTerry Savage, the chairman of the Cannes Lions festival, told Mumbrella that evidence of block voting last year was not conclusive – and no damage had been done to the festival’s reputation as a result.

The Cannes Lions media category was mired by controversy in 2012 when it emerged that jurors appeared to be banding together to vote for agencies from their own networks.

The former boss of Mindshare Australia James Greet, who was on the Cannes judging panel in 2011, subsequently said in an interview with AdNews that block voting in the category was “rife”.

The scandal prompted media agency Zenith Optimedia to threaten to boycott the event this year if nothing was done to improve the judging process which has since been restructured. The changes led to accusations from New York Festivals that the Cannes Lions had copied it.

This week Savage told Mumbrella: “Ultimately, there was no definitive evidence that it [block voting] occurred.

“The assumption that it was omnipresent was not conclusive.”

“People have strong opinions about what happen in the jury room. But we measure every single vote that is made in Cannes. We can go back into every vote that’s cast and make an assessment of that vote,” he said.

“However, no matter happened last year, the perception was clear [that block voting occurred].”

Savage said that as a result of the scandal, Cannes Lions consulted with industry leaders and said “we don’t want this to happen again”.

“We said, ‘let us try to work together to insure that this perception is eliminated,'” he said.

As a result of the block voting fracas, Cannes Lions restructured the voting process this year. Forty judges assessed the shortlist stage, and the next stage was judged by nine judges “with equal representation from different networks,” Savage said.

Had the scandal done any reputation to the festival, and the media category’s reputation? “No, I don’t think it’s done any damage. Yes, media entries are down this year – but not significantly down.”

Entries for the Media Lions from across the world were down by about 7 per cent on the previous year – from 3247 to 3031. Entries from Australia were actually up from 138 to 153.

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