“Advertising Week began with a phone call in the summer of 2002,” recalls Matt Scheckner, one of the event’s founding fathers and its current executive director. “The 4A’s Value of Advertising Committee was looking for a big idea to try to help move the needle on some big issues, like attracting young talent and how the industry is perceived overall.”
In September 2004, the first Advertising Week was born. “The program was much, much smaller than it is now,” Scheckner says. “The only special event that year was Battle of the Ad Bands, and our thought leadership program was much less ambitious.”
Jump ahead to 2011. Opening night kicks off with a concert at the Best Buy Theater hosted by MySpace and Justin Timberlake and featuring artists like Far East Movement, B.o.B, and Drake. And this year’s program has grown to include more than 100 seminars, with glittery speakers like Edward Burns and Sarah Jessica Parker.
“What’s also interesting is that when we began, Advertising Week was really centered on the agencies, and the creative agencies in particular,” Scheckner continues. “But now, CMOs love this thing, and you’ll see 20 or 30 on our thought leaders program this year.”
Advertising Week’s eighth installment will also see the launch of new initiatives like the Crossroads Media Awards (which Scheckner describes as “the b-to-b equivalent of the People’s Choice Awards”) and the Advertising Week MVP, given to the attendee who is the most active in social media.
But the most remarkable thing about the week for Scheckner? “People learn and connect and have a good time,” he says. “They feel good about being in this industry.”