Adweek’s Busiest Advertising Week Ever: Brand Genius, the Clio Awards, and a New Honor for Cause Marketing

(RED) is first Brand Save honoree

Advertising Week kicks off in New York today, as does one of the most ambitious weeks in Adweek’s history. Along with the jam-packed agenda of the annual industry gathering—the panels, the parties, the coffee meetings and, yes, the cocktails—we mark the 25th anniversary of Brand Genius Tuesday evening with a ceremony honoring the year’s 10 best marketing executives and hosted by MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski. The following night, we will celebrate our sister brand, the Clio Awards, at its annual gala, hosted by the incomparable Whoopi Goldberg.

To be as ambitious, as vibrant and as hard-charging as the businesses and the people we cover is a mission of ours at Adweek. The Brand Genius profiles and portraits in this, our biggest issue of the year, prove that out.

A few people are key to Brand Genius, beginning with senior editor Robert Klara, who each year trains his considerable research and reporting talents on the pursuit of the year’s standout marketing achievements and the individuals behind them. Once we select our honorees, the execution—the assigning, editing, shooting and designing—fall to executive editor Tony Case and executive creative director Nick Mrozowski. I think you’ll agree that their work on this year’s profiles and portraits is truly exceptional.

This year, we expand the Brand Genius franchise with Brand Save, which spotlights the best in cause marketing. By way of a yearlong program, the award aims to marry brand innovation with the goals of the worthy recipient. This year, we honor (RED) and its remarkable quest to end HIV/AIDS in eight African countries.

The notion of Brand Save was born last year at a panel I moderated during Creative Week in New York that focused on (RED)’s AIDS-free generation initiative and included (RED) CEO Deborah Dugan, Bank of America head of brand marketing Meredith Verdone and Hill Holliday evp, group creative director Spencer Deadrick.

As a child of the ’80s, I can well remember the pervasive fear and sense of helplessness as the AIDS epidemic devastated communities in every corner of the world. I remember walking off the stage after the Creative Week panel completely stunned that (RED) really believed ending HIV/AIDS was possible, and soon.

All I could think was: How can I help?

Fast-forward to the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity this past summer and a panel featuring (RED) co-founder Bono. He made an impassioned call to marketers to lend their creativity and innovation to help (RED) achieve its goal. Sitting in the audience, I was struck that I could, in fact, help by finding a way to bring (RED) and Brand Genius—an aggregation of the best minds in marketing and the very people Bono was eager to reach—together.

Back in New York, I mentioned my idea to Adweek’s vp of marketing, Liza Kirsh. Through her enthusiasm and tenacity, Brand Save quickly, with the great support of Dugan and her team at (RED), became a reality. It’ll be a proud moment indeed when we launch it tomorrow night.