In recognition of "his leadership and Microsoft's continued commitment to digital advertising," this year's Cannes International Advertising Festival in June -- not to be confused with the Cannes Film Festival in May -- will present Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer with an award for Media Person of the Year.
A statement from Cannes Lions, the festival's organizers, says:
In less than a generation, the worlds of publishing and advertising have been transformed by a tidal wave of paradigm-busting digital technologies. Microsoft has been at the heart of these changes for over 30 years, bringing digital within reach of mainstream audiences and driving both consumer and advertiser innovation.
Ballmer's passion for empowering consumers in their daily lives results today in Microsoft media assets playing a major role in more than 642 million people's lives worldwide, whilst 13% of all time spent online is spent on Microsoft's digital properties. Simultaneously, Microsoft has innovated in a wide range of digital media assets across PC software, online media, digital games and mobile devices, empowering brands to extend the boundaries of their creativity and consumer connections to delight and engage the consumer.
No doubt Microsoft's spokespeople will need to defend the festival's close relationship with Microsoft. The company was a founding sponsor of the awards, and has been a major sponsor since 2002.
As Adweek notes, Ballmer himself has been with Microsoft nearly 30 years, since Bill Gates brought him on in 1980 as the company's first non-programmer to be given a managerial role. Few geeks seem to know that Ballmer has a bachelor's degree in math and economics from Harvard.