By Eleftheria Parpis
Know-how and who you know are more critical to success in the ad business than ever. Which is why the organizers of Advertising Week, which kicks off today in New York, are optimistic that despite an expected drop-off in attendance from 2008 (when approximately 60,000 people showed up), the confab will be better than ever.
"The world has changed," said Chuck Porter, co-chairman of Crispin Porter + Bogusky and, with Deutsch CEO Linda Sawyer, co-chair of Advertising Week's volunteer board of directors. The week's offerings, he explained, take into consideration "the new economics of the business since things kind of went to hell." Content, he added, will include new technologies (e.g., mobile), diversity issues, and work focused on public service. "There are more than 200 sessions and only about eight of them are about drinking or fun," Porter estimated.
Advertising Week, which runs over five days, is now in its sixth year. It incorporates events organized by 27 trade associations, including the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which is conducting its annual MIXX Conference and Expo. The conference is also introducing its first annual, daylong Mobile Advertising Program, which will explore advertising, content and technology in the hot mobile sector.
The economy will be addressed with seminars such as the Forbes Economic Summit, hosted by Steve Forbes, and an MDC Partners-sponsored three-part discussion called the Realities and Opportunities of an Industry in Flux. Rebuilding consumer trust in battered brand categories such as financial services and automotive will be looked at in a forum featuring a conversation with the Reverend Al Sharpton.
Diversity, an issue included in Advertising Week's programming since its 2003 debut, will be tackled with content that includes: the American Advertising Federation's Diversity Achievement and Mosaic Awards & Forum; a panel with client, agency and suppliers discussing best practices; and the Panasonic Ideas for Life Series: VCU Brandcenter Diversity Summit Debrief, which will examine ways to create more diversity in the industry.
To provide attendees with more networking opportunities, Advertising Week will, for the first time, host AT&T Connects, a nightly networking event in Times Square open to all registered delegates.
"There's so much fear in our business, it's great to get some of the better minds together … so we can hash [things] out," said Tor Myhren, CCO of Grey New York, who is participating in a talk about the impact of digital.
Richard Pinder, COO of Publicis Worldwide, who will participate in a panel discussion about building and sustaining global brands, said, "The U.S. consumer is going to start spending again and when they do, I want … to be sure I know the market well enough to contribute."
Advertising Week is a perpetual work in progress that changes in step with the industry, added Porter. "This is a challenging year because of the economy," he said, "and I think people will come away saying [the conference] is better."