2nd Annual Ad Week Learns From Its Past

The second annual Advertising Week kicks off today with a parade of icons through Times Square and up Madison Avenue. Bringing together many of advertising’s biggest players, the five-day event includes panels and parties in an attempt to enhance the industry’s image and address the issues it faces.

Some changes have been made in response to feedback from last year’s attendees, according to Ron Berger, CEO/CCO of Euro RSCG in New York and San Francisco, who is co-chair of the event with DDB CEO Ken Kaess. For one, organizers strived to better publicize the week’s activities through a more user-friendly Web site, said Kaess. Other feedback suggested the parade of icons focused too much on the past, but the icons were popular, Berger said, and so they returned.

The icons notwithstanding, there is an eye toward the future, with panels on buzz and digital marketing and media—some of which will be available on Podcasts. “One of the themes is where the business is going, evolving, what’s next,” said Kaess.

American Association of Advertising Agencies CEO O. Burtch Drake noted that while some attendees complained about too many overlapping events, there will be even more panels and seminars this year. With each organizing committee and sponsor hosting events, it’s nearly impossible to maintain a linear schedule, he said.

Consumers will be invited to participate in essentially the same way as last year, such as in witnessing the induction of industry legends into the walk of fame, ringing the New York Stock Exchange bell and attending a smattering of exhibits, Kaess said.

The Grand Central exhibit of pro bono creative, which didn’t get the expected traffic last year, has been canceled. And the opening-night venue has changed from Gracie Mansion to the United Nations, a location Berger said “highlights the importance and the globalization of the industry.”

Berger said, based on registration, attendance is expected to double to 100,000, including staffers from agencies, clients and 33 trade groups.

Last year, sponsors participated with no promise of financial return. But, Drake said, the event was enough of a hit to make getting sponsors easier this year. Nine new sponsors are onboard: Infinity Broadcasting, Google, MSN, MSNBC, AOL Media Networks, MTV Networks, Levi’s, TBS and the Food Network. (Adweek Magazines is also a sponsor.)

Last year, donations from the 4A’s and holding companies, which a source pegged at about $850,000, offset the costs. This year’s event will cost the same—about $1 million—but all that will be recouped through sponsors. If there’s a profit, it will go to next year’s event. “First and foremost, it has to be a financial success. Otherwise, we can’t do it again,” Drake said.