Cannes ad nod to Watanabe


TOKYO -- The head of Japan's largest media conglomerate was named Media Person of the Year on Thursday at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival.

Tsuneo Watanabe, the 81-year-old chairman and editor in chief of the Yomiuri Shimbun Holdings, is the first Asian to win the award, which recognizes achievements in television commercials and advertising in print media.

"Historically, Cannes Lions has looked West when making this important and prestigious award. This year we are looking East," said Terry Savage, executive chairman of the annual event.

"In honoring Tsuneo Watanabe, we are honoring a leader who has contributed to building one of the great media organizations in the world, a leader who has the awesome responsibility of publishing the largest circulation newspaper in the world," he said. "A leader who has not just embraced press, but also TV, radio and a range of other media and business ventures."

The broadcasting arm of the Yomiuri group, Nippon Television was Japan's first commercial broadcaster, making its first transmission Aug. 28, 1953, and has grown since to incorporate several other regional companies, including Osaka-based Yomiuri Telecasting Corp.

The professional baseball team the Yomiuri Giants are another part of the corporation while it also operates a theme park in western Tokyo.

Watanabe joined the Yomiuri newspaper in 1950 and served in the Washington bureau for three years beginning in 1968. He was appointed chairman in 2004.

The award will be presented June 20 at the Cannes festival. Hitoshi Uchiyama, president of the Yomiuri's holding company, will accept the honor on behalf of Watanabe.