A spokeswoman for the festival confirmed the move to phase out the managing director role.
However, Cannes Lions was unable to say whether Ascential was planning to create a new role to replace it.
There was a 21% drop in the number of awards entries this year, amid belt-tightening in the ad industry and complaints that the festival had lost its focus, The festival schedule was shortened and industry sources say attendance by leading holding companies dropped by up to a quarter (not including Publicis Groupe, which opted not to send delegates this year).
However, Ascential chief executive Duncan Painter has claimed that attendance by marketers is showing at least double-digit growth.
Papa’s departure follows that of Terry Savage, the longtime chief executive then chairman of Cannes Lions, after this year’s festival, which was annouced in December 2017.
The current chairman is Philip Thomas, head of the events division at Ascential (formerly Emap), which bought the festival in 2004 for £52.5m.
Ascential’s later purchases include the fashion trends intelligence service WGSN (from where Papa was appointed two years ago) in 2005, media advisory compnay MediaLink in 2017 and advertising research specialist WARC this year.
This article first appeared on PRWeek sister title Campaign