I’ve worked at Adweek for 17 of its 30 years. During that time, we’ve witnessed, documented and marveled at all the radical changes that have taken place in the industry we cover. By necessity, the process of crafting an anniversary issue involves a journey through the past, revisiting the “good old days,” which feel especially poignant now, given the tough times we’re facing. And it brings a lot back.
I vividly remember the intriguing interviews, groundbreaking stories, outrageous scandals, secretive meetings, internecine agency politics and the many fascinating personalities and characters I’ve had the great pleasure to encounter during my years here. Like the time Carl Spielvogel, apparently upset that I was asking “aggressive questions” during our first interview, instructed “Louie” the shoe-shine guy to remove my shoes and flee the room, leaving me in stocking feet. My response, which was something snarky about his lame attempt to feel powerful, abruptly, but not surprisingly, ended the interview. There was the Monday morning when The Duse — as many affectionately called the legendary Phil Dusenberry — called me up to rant about an unflattering quote his Pepsi client had said about BBDO that ran in a story of mine. His was a strange, unsettling whisper of a yell, but amusing nonetheless. It didn’t make a difference to Phil that the guy had spoken on the record. He hung up on me. I called back and hung up on him. Not very mature, I know, but satisfying. Phil and I spoke regularly for many years after that, but neither of us ever spoke of that incident. It was all part of the game. A really fun game.
I remember admiring Ralph Ammirati for the way he left the business, immediately decamping after the merger of his beloved Ammirati & Puris with Lintas. It was the most definitive, dignified exit from the agency business that I had ever seen, and remains so to this day. Agency mergers and buyouts seemed to pop nearly every week for a while, and the disenchanted went off to launch boutiques as counterprogramming. My random introduction of IPG’s Phil Geier to Donny Deutsch may have put some wheels in motion, but I happily turned down a half-joking offer of a commission for obvious reasons. Later came one semi-surreal and intense cocktail hour (or three) with John Wren and John Dooner (at this point running IPG), the sketchy details of which I will take to my grave. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has always been interesting.
In this special anniversary section, we’ve tried to acknowledge the past 30 years without dwelling on them too much, while looking toward things to come. In our lead story, Adweek veteran Noreen O’Leary examines the evolving media-consumption habits of today’s consumers. Media editor Steve McClellan and digital editor Brian Morrissey weigh in on the future of TV. Creative editor Eleftheria Parpis explores how technology is changing the art of storytelling. Ad critic extraordinaire Barbara Lippert reveals her selections for the defining campaigns from each of the last three decades, and four top creatives — Jeff Goodby, Cliff Freeman, Gerry Graf, Mark Wnek — select their favorite work, with some surprising results.
The centerpiece of the package is a photographic portfolio featuring 30 of the most influential executives working in advertising, marketing and media today. It features a wide range of professionals whose work has reshaped their industries, and whose vision will be felt broadly for years to come. Also, in the video section, you can watch interviews from some of the 30 Influentials, like Martin Sorrell and Lee Clow. And don’t miss the “Tales From the Trenches” video series, in which folks like Tommy Carroll, Cliff Freeman, Jerry Della Femina and Bob Schmidt share hilarious stories about the industry’s heyday.
No, the business will never be the same. We can all agree on that. And certainly some of the fun has been beaten out of it. But it is no less interesting and even more challenging. Amid all the talk of a miserable 2009, one thing we can count on is that a few stars will always rise up, shine a little brighter and make the business a lot more interesting. That’s one thing that will never change.
(Click here to visit Adweek’s 30th anniversary celebration microsite.)