AWNY Luncheon Was Pleasant, then Awkward, then Fun and Informative

By Matt Van Hoven 

OK so I’m skipping the obligatory “we” in this article, because there’s just no we about it. I attended the 12th annual Advertising Women of New York ‘Women to Watch’ luncheon, alone, because (as you know) there’s only one other writer for this blizzog, and she’s anonymous.

I showed up at the Hilton, right on time, and was immediately greeted by the very nice folks at the welcome desk (Lindsay Galin of Hearst = awesome). I was issued my table number, some tertiary information on the day’s events, and scuttled to AWNY President and Redbook VP/Publisher Mary Morgan. For those of you who aren’t familiar with AWNY, it’s like 100 years old. Snap!

After getting the lowdown from Mary, I spoke with AWNY board member Melissa Goidel. When she’s not representing the group, she spends her time as the VP of Sales for Brand dot net.

At one point in our conversation, I commented about how ‘frightening’ it is to be in advertising these days. Poignantly, Melissa remarked that there’s more to be done in advertising than ever before. Emerging technologies (I’m extrapolating), collaborative opportunities and a down economy all equate to new challenges &#151 and AWNY provides the social and professional networking support system to get it all done.

In all, I chatted up as many people as I could. I only had one awfully awkward conversation, with an AdAge reporter. I had been taking notes when I stumbled upon her. I have a habit of being in journalist mode at these things, and as such I usually write something about whoever I’m speaking with &#151 as a reminder of who I’ve spoken with. It’s annoying to some, and apparently caught this reporter off guard. “Are you taking notes,” she queried, “don’t take notes, I just wanted to say hi.”

Maybe she was afraid I’d put her name in a headline. Either way, hard as I tried to salvage it, the conversation was doomed to continue uncomfortably. Luckily, another person walked up to us at the peak of the nails-on-the-chalkboard-knife-scraping-a-plate moment, and I sneaked off to grab a beer. Phew. I regrouped, and launched myself back into the crowd.

More after the jump.

Next, I sidled up to two very cordial women from TheKnot dot com. You know, they do all that wedding stuff. After learning that TK is used by 80 percent of all brides, my nerves began to calm, and all was back to normal. Just as I was getting into a story about Farmers Insurance and Campbell Ewald, the lunch bell rang.

This next part still cracks me up. I made my way to table 12, my assigned spot for the remainder of the afternoon. It was way up in the front, albeit off to the far stage left side of the room. I was the first person to arrive at the table. And the last.

Was George Parker playing some fiendish trick on me from the grave (one commenter thought that might be the case) It seemed that way, especially later in the afternoon when I interviewed Annette Stover, who said she reads his blog.

Anyway, I patiently waited for people to shuffle in…someone…anyone…alas, no one. Everyone in the place had table assignments, but mine was one of the few that actually had numbers (others said things like EURO RSCG, or R/GA or Alex Bogusky’s hair. So I suppose I was stuck at the “press” table or something.

I get it, “put the new guy at a table by himself!” Couldn’t they have given me a wedgie, instead?

Nonetheless I was alone. But after a few minutes, I hopped up and in true networking style, headed to the next open spot I could find. NBC Universal was pretty barren, so I joined them…and moments later the rest of their crew filled in (save for one person, who was sick or something). So it all worked out. I made new friends, NBC Uni rules, I live to write for another day.

Laugh with me people. I’m not a divo, and in all it was a nice break from the Olympics and dishing gossip about the industry. More on the Annette Stover interview, to come. Support AWNY. Join em. I’m out.