Cannes 2002 awards Redstone and Swatch

The Cannes International Advertising Festival has named Viacom's chairman and chief executive, Sumner Redstone, as its Media Person of the Year, despite a tough year for the broadcasting giant, which was said to have lost £350 million in the month following 11 September.

However, Viacom, which owns the stateside CBS and UPN TV networks as well as MTV, out-performed many of its competitors in the ad market over the past year and has forecast a double-digit increase in earnings for 2002.

The prospects for Viacom's expansion into the broadcasting market in the UK were heightened last month by the Government's communications bill, which opened the way for foreign corporations to take a controlling interest in ITV companies.

Nevertheless, the annual shareholder meeting last month resulted in angry criticism of the 78-year-old Redstone's unstable relationship with his fellow Viacom boss, Mel Karmazin. Redstone's reluctance to devolve more responsibility to the younger Karmazin is seen by some as the cause of the pair's friction.

The festival also honoured the co-founder, chairman and chief executive of the Swatch group, Nicolas Hayek, with its Advertiser of the Year award.

In contrast to the hands-on approach of Redstone, the 74-year-old Hayek last month announced that he would hand over operational responsibility of Swatch, which is now the world's biggest watchmaker, to his son, Nicolas Hayek Junior.

The commercial strategies and marketing pursued by Hayek during the 80s has been credited with reviving the fortunes not only of the Swatch group but also of the Swiss watch-making industry as a whole. During the 90s he took the Swatch group into the motoring industry for the first time through the launch of the Smart Car in association with Mercedes-Benz.


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