Shane Smith drops more F-bombs than a CEO of a global brand is traditionally wont to do, but there’s no denying the influence the Vice boss wields in the media landscape as his edgy print-to-digital-to-linear empire continues to push its way into the mainstream.
For that reason, Cannes ad fest organizer Lions Festivals has crowned Smith as its Media Person of the Year for 2016.
The Vice co-founder and CEO will be awarded the honor at the international festival on June 22 in Cannes.
The award recognizes major contributions to shaping the future of media.
Philip Thomas, CEO, Lions Festivals, said in a statement that Smith (pictured) earned the award because of his skillful navigation of the ups and downs of the changing media landscape.
“Not only is he responsible for taking Vice, which started life as a punk magazine, and expanding it to become the world’s leading global youth media company, but also, beyond this, he’s a critically acclaimed journalist.”
Vice launched in 1994 as a print publication before growing into a digital online publication, with a presence in many international markets. As a alternative news presence on YouTube, Vice’s reach among millennials spans 24 channels and 13.2 million subscribers. Video views to date total 2.7 billion.
Smith has previously said Vice is the “Time Warner of the street”, noting, in a 2014 interview on stage with TechCrunch’s Ryan Lawler, that the strategy behind the brand’s story selection (everything from in-depth documentaries to short hits with provocative titles like “Why I’m so proud to be a ‘promiscuous’ slut“) is “to be interesting.”
“You want them (viewers) to say, ‘Hey. Did you see that thing on Vice or did you read that thing in Vice magazine or see it on Vice TV?’ Whatever it is, if it’s food, or music, or entertainment or news, it should punch you in the face,” he said.
Most recently Vice expanded into the world of traditional television, with the arrival of Viceland, its linear TV channel in partnership with A&E in the U.S. and with Rogers Media in Canada. Viceland is also scheduled to launch in September in the U.K. and Ireland on Sky and Sky’s OTT service Now TV. The company has said the goal is to launch the new channel in 12 countries over the next two years.
The media company also has a mobile content studio, a feature film division and an in-house creative services agency.
Last year’s winner was Sy Lau, founder of the China-based Tencent Online Media Group.
With a file from Sonya Fatah, Media in Canada