The idea for the Advertising Club of Greater Boston's first charity auction originated 25 years ago with former agency executive Courtney Crandall.
"No one was doing charity auctions in those days," said Crandall, who prior to his retirement in 1989 had been chairman of Cabot Communications, a shop eventually absorbed by Arnold.
The first auction, organized by Crandall, was a black-tie affair which raised $25,000; last year's auction netted more than $1 million, the event's largest take ever.
"This year, we're hoping to break a million again," said club president Bethany Kendall.
After expenses, some $400,000 of last year's proceeds were used to fund the club's efforts to foster diversity in the local communications industry; the rest supported Ad Club operations, according to Kendall.
"It's a world-class fundraiser," said Rich Doucette, executive vice president/new business development at Boston's Target Marketing & Promotions and auction chairman.
At this year's auction, to be held May 2 at the Westin Copley Place in Boston, bidders will vie for restaurant gift certificates and sports tickets, European getaways and cruises, and the opportunity to attend tapings of Frasier and The Oprah Winfrey Show. The largest portion of the proceeds comes from time and space donated by various broadcast and print outlets.
The auction was originally set up to benefit the Sportsman's Tennis Club, a tennis program for young people in Boston. One of the items up for bid in the first auction in 1977 was a chance to be on the Janet Langhart Show, a TV talk show popular in Boston at the time.
About half of the net proceeds from this year's event will again go to the Ad Club Foundation to foster a more diverse workforce in communications. ACF initiatives include a summer internship program involving local companies and an outreach program that recruits college students to Boston's communications industry.
"[The auction] is all about making the ad community a better group," said Kendall. "The fact that we've sustained [this] event over the years says something."
Vicki Li, a graduate of Boston University, twice participated in the ACF's internship program. "It was the most important thing I did career-wise," said Li, now assistant media planner at Bozell, New York. "The program allows you to be with other students—you get a rich experience," Li said. Li worked as an intern at Kelly Chunn Associates and Student Advantage, both in Boston.