Talk about a rude awakening.
After a night of cocktails, group dinners and revelry, ad industry executives gathered at the 4A's Transformation Conference in Beverly Hills, Calif., awoke today to a California-like greeting: a 4.4 magnitude earthquake.
Those staying at the conference hotel, the Beverly Hilton, largely shrugged off the 6:26 a.m. rustling, though it generated plenty of jokes at breakfast (Was it as good for you as it was for me?) and the opening of the general session.
4A's president Nancy Hill, who took the stage of the Hilton's ballroom to strains of "I Feel the Earth Move" and "Shake, Rattle and Roll," quipped, "It's a great way to make sure we have the room filled because everybody is awake."
Added Chris Weil, global CEO of Momentum and outgoing chairman of the 4A's: "You know, I'm convinced that that earthquake this morning was just a little shout-out from L.A. to all you East Coast and Midwesterners that left the winter to come out here and [enjoy] the weather.
"It's not all rosy. It's not all what it seems," Weil said, to a smattering of chuckles. "It's dangerous out here."
A few hours later, before talking about corosive politics, Maureen Dowd, a columnist from The New York Times, quipped, "I'm worried that I'll be a bit of an anti-climax after the earthquake."
For Robert Harwood-Matthews, the president of the New York office of TBWA\Chiat\Day, the quake reminded him of 2009 when he was an account leader at the agency's Playa del Rey, Calif., office.
Harwood-Matthews, who was in his room on the seventh floor of the Hilton when the quake hit, deadpanned that "if you were lying on the edge of the bed, you'd be thrown out." He looked none the worse for wear, though, reading a newspaper and scarfing a bagel before the general session began. In fact, to quote the late Warren Zevon, his hair was perfect.