Andrew Saunders named Globe president and CEO

The Globe and Mail is getting its first new CEO in nearly 25 years, announcing that Andrew Saunders will succeed Canadian publishing legend Phillip Crawley as president and CEO following the latter’s retirement on Aug. 31.

Saunders joined the Globe as director of advertising in 2002, and progressed steadily throughout the organization in the ensuing 21 years. He became vice-president of advertising sales in 2006, and assumed his current role as chief revenue officer, responsible for monetizing the Globe‘s various products and platforms, in 2013.

His tenure with the national news organization coincided with a volatile period in Canadian media, as traditional daily newspapers like the Globe were forced to evolve and radically transform their business when advertisers started migrating to digital platforms like Google and Facebook, and the bottom fell out of the once lucrative newspaper advertising market.

Despite that change, The Globe and Mail remains one of the most respected media outlets in Canada, a vital contributor to the digital news ecosystem, and still the preferred option when brands are looking to run prestige print campaigns.

“Andrew’s leadership has been instrumental in driving the Globe’s successful transformation from a print-centric organization to a digitally driven model, emphasizing the growing importance of subscriptions whilst extolling the value of advertising,” said Globe chairman David Thompson.

While still a print brand, the Globe has also adroitly pivoted towards the internet age, boasting more than 200,000 digital-only subscribers, according to a 2022 report by the World Association of News Publishers. It was forecasting a $30 million increase in revenue for 2023.

Approximately 70% of the Globe‘s revenue was derived from the typical mixture of display and classified advertising when Crawley arrived at the paper 25 years ago. Speaking at WAN-IFRA’s Asian Media Leaders eSummit last year, he said that the company expected nearly two-thirds (62%) of its revenue this year to come from a combination of “subscribers, universities, businesses buying bulk subscriptions, and sales in retail newspapers.”

The company claims 6.2 million readers every week across both print and digital, with every issue of Report on Business magazine reaching 2.7 million readers.

Saunders is a well-known and respected figure in Canadian marketing and advertising, having held sales roles with CTV, BNN and Bell Media prior to joining the Globe. He also currently serves on the board of organizations including IAB, the Canadian Cannes Advisory Board and Ad Standards.

Well-known figures from across the media, marketing and advertising spectrum weighed in on a LinkedIn post announcing his promotion yesterday.

He plans to work closely with Crawley prior to assuming his new role on Sept. 1. “I am thrilled to lead the Globe in the years ahead,” he said in a release. “We have a tremendous opportunity to build on the company’s already-strong foundation in the Canadian media industry, and to drive growth and innovation.

“Our team is continually exploring new technologies and platforms that will allow us to reach a broader audience and deliver our top-class content in new ways.”

In an interview with the Globe, Crawley called Saunders a “natural leader who lives and breathes the values of The Globe and Mail.

“He believes in fostering a collaborative culture among staff members, recognizing that a highly engaged team is essential to the success of any organization,” he said. “He builds relationships with people from all departments, always with an eye towards the Globe’s long-term growth and success.”

Crawley joined the Globe in 1999 after a distinguished newspaper career in Europe, Asia and New Zealand. Unlike many newspaper publishers, he came up through the journalism side of the business, with a career that saw him work for two of the most high-profile and polarizing figures in media: Rupert Murdoch and Conrad Black.

With the former, he had a nearly decade-long stint as editor of The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong from 1988 to 1993, and then as managing director of The Times Supplements in London. With Black, he worked as The Daily Telegraph‘s northern editor, and editor of Newcastle on Tyne’s The Journal.

He was a fixture at the Advertising Club of Toronto’s annual Newspaper Day, during which he seemed to delight in eschewing the niceties of panel discussions, tossing grenades and persistently tweaking the noses of his competitors. While no rival newspapers were immune to his sometimes withering putdowns, the National Post, the upstart daily launched by his former employer Conrad Black in 1997, was a favoured target.

More recently, he has taken aim at what he called the “the fakery, the falsehoods [and] lies” of the digital advertising ecosystem that has siphoned away so much of advertising revenue that sustained newspapers for decades.

In an interview with the Globe, Thomson praised Crawley’s ability to steer the company through “intense” competition, successfully establishing it as a “leading force” in new media and online products.

Photo by Melissa Tait, The Globe and Mail

Chris Powell