Cannes contest to tap U.S. ad exec as prez

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[london] The International Advertising Festival will announce next month the hiring of a prominent executive currently working at a major U.S. ad agency network as its new president.

According to a confidential memo obtained by Advertising Age and sent to the festival's representatives around the world, the executive is about to retire from his current post. The individual's name could not be learned.

The new position is just one of the sweeping changes under way at the festival, held every June in Cannes, France.

FESTIVAL DIRECTOR QUITS

Last week, festival Director Charles Sciberras quit abruptly, to be succeeded by Romain Hatchuel, 26, who returned to the festival in mid-November three years after a bitter falling out with his father, Chairman Roger Hatchuel.

The senior Mr. Hatchuel, 66, who owns 10% of the Cannes festival, now plans to be less involved in the organization. He is expected to resign as chairman-CEO of Mediavision, the Paris-based cinema advertising company that is the festival's French representative.

"We had a conflict at a certain moment of time," said Romain Hatchuel. "But we're father and son, so we started talking a few months ago."

Next year's planned hiring of a high-level U.S. agency executive as festival president is designed to boost the festival's credibility within the agency world, which provides most of its entry fees and delegates. The executive will be identified in January but will begin work after retirement.

The new post is "partly a PR and credibility role and partly intellectual input into the concept of the festival," Mr. Hatchuel said.

He said Mr. Sciberras quit to pursue "personal projects."

INTERACTIVE CONTEST

Apart from major personnel changes, next year's festival will recognize interactive advertising for the first time. A separate competition, with its own jury and awards night, will be held for Web site and banner advertising during the weeklong Cannes festival this year starting June 22.

Copyright December 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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