It will either be a blast or a brilliant mistake, to quote Elvis Costello. But JWT, with its mock memorial service for advertising on Monday, will at least smash the conventions of Advertising Week.
Rather than lead a panel discussion or give a speech, JWT will turn the Times Center into a “church,” with officiants, eulogists, a choir and flowers. In short, the 45-minute service represents a colorful reply to the oft-repeated and hyperbolic declaration at industry conferences and in magazine articles that advertising is dead.
JWT creative leaders Jeff Benjamin, Matt MacDonald and Ryan Kutscher will officiate and the eulogists will include Barton F. Graf 9000’s Gerry Graf, ad legend Charlotte Beers and Cindy Gallop, the former U.S. chairman of Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
Oh, and between eulogies, the choir will sing solemn renditions of familiar ad jingles, including Almond Joy's "Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut." In lieu of donations, agencies are sending flowers.
Graf, in particular, will mourn the death of the TV spot. He’s still working out what he’s going to say and joked that maybe he’ll bring an empty chair with him. Or perhaps he can borrow Hunter S. Thompson’s not-so-fond farewell to Richard Nixon and replace every reference to Nixon with TV …
Benjamin, an ex-Crispin Porter + Bogusky creative leader who in February became JWT’s North American chief creative officer, likened the mock memorial to what he did at the Cannes ad festival this year.
In a presentation on imagination and creativity, Benjamin interviewed three precocious kids instead of a panel of peers. As he explained, “You can learn, you can gain wisdom and be entertained at the same time.”
Panel-weary attendees might just settle for one out of three.