Problems Riddle Ad Festival

NEW YORK Low turnout and the cancellation of the keynote speaker marred the first Advertising Festival, held Sept. 2-4 at Disneyland Paris.

Organizer Carl Tooney said several hundred people attended the three-day festival, but other estimates put that figure much lower. WPP Group chief executive Martin Sorrell, scheduled to make the keynote speech, pulled out.

“He let us know in the afternoon something happened and he couldn’t make it,” Tooney said.

The awards ceremony went on as planned; of the 700 entrants, Interpublic Group’s Springer & Jacoby in Paris won Campaign of the Year for its “The Road/The Pretenders” campaign for Daimler Chrysler France. Wieden + Kennedy in London won the Advertising Festival Gold Award for “Cog” for Honda.

Tooney, owner of a media company that utilizes trucks as an advertising medium in the U.K., National Advertising, admitted that the festival “took a bit longer to get going than we hoped it would.” He said some delegates “didn’t understand the concept before they came.”

“People thought it was some kind of big corporation,” running the festival, Tooney said. “They didn’t realize it was just one man.”

Tooney plans to hold the event next year, but said he will hire an event management company to run the festival, along with other improvements.