Tencent’s SY Lau on being named Media Person of the Year, rosé and Maurice Lévy’s mugshot

Digiday covers that latest from marketing and media at the annual Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. More from the series →


Each day, we’ll grab a few minutes with one of the industry big shots in Cannes this week to find out what they’re hoping to get out of it. Today, it’s SY Lau, president of the online media group Tencent, the Chinese Internet giant that owns WeChat and microblogging service Tencent Weibo.

Lau was named Cannes Lions’ Media Person of the Year this year, an honor previously bestowed upon Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt. We caught him at the OMD Oasis Cabana in Cannes for a quick chat.

What do you think of Cannes?
Cannes Lions, to me, has always been the place where we honor the best talent that still believes in harnessing creativity as part of human capital to make the world a better place.

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 10.30.28 PM
Qu’est-ce que c’est?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen?
In my honest opinion, the weirdest thing I’ve seen is [Publicis boss] Maurice Lévy’s picture on the Croisette on a poster for The Drum. Well, to be honest, it’s not just funny. It shows that the good old way of communication still works. Maurice is a friend, and when you see a good old familiar face in the public, on a poster, it endears the relationship further.

Your thoughts on rosé?
I don’t know why it’s all they serve. But I do like it. Rosé is a hybrid to me between wine and champagne. Wine you drink in leisurely occasions. Rosé is young, befitting the ambience of celebration. I love it. It’s easy for the palette.

How do you describe Tencent?
Tencent is like the chocolate factories where there are unlimited floors of chocolate where you can have fun and imagination flows. Tencent is a place where we empower young people to make better enhancements in the qualities of society. If this person is a mother or father, where they have kids working for us, I would say Tencent is a place where we’re proud of what your son or daughter has done over the year. As a result, China and relationships of hundreds of millions of users have been enhanced because of the hard work your son or daughter has done. The official versions of what Tencent really does, you can just Google, and you can bore yourself to death. 

Why do you think you were named Media Person of the Year?
For China, media has always been about very strong TV-dominated world, and the availability of structures and industries are very different. In the past 10 years, a couple of things have happened: It has gone from new media to mainstream media. You have 250 million people every single day spending an hour or two looking at their mobile phone. That kind of change in the consumer behavior in the “netizens” of China today is big. When Cannes awarded us this recognition, they are looking at the future as it begins today.

Media Person of the Year: Lau at Cannes


Just how different is China from other markets?
Rather than saying different, it’s unique. We’re here today to look at that big growth of 600 million people, and the remaining 40 percent of the population about to be converted into walking life forms of mobility. Those facts alone make China different. Wait, not different, but unique.


More in Marketing

In the marketing world, anime is following in the footsteps of gaming

As marketers look to take advantage of anime’s entry into the zeitgeist, they might be wise to observe the parallels between the evolution of anime as a marketing channel and the ways brands have learned to better leverage gaming in recent years. 

With the introduction of video ads and e-commerce, Roblox looks to attain platform status

Roblox is expanding into more areas than just ads in 2024. Much like platforms such as Amazon and Facebook have transcended their origins to evolve from their origins as online marketplaces and social media channels, Roblox is in the midst of a transformation into a platform for all elements of users’ virtual lives.