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IHAVEANIDEA.ORG > articles >  Advertising Week V: A Look Back


Advertising Week V: A Look Back

Posted on October 9, 2008 and read 687 times

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New York City: if the world of advertising had a capital city, the Big Apple would definitely claim that honor, with Madison Avenue standing in for Pennsylvania Avenue, Downing Street or Sussex Drive (I’ll let the multinationals fight over who gets to sit in the White House in that analogy.) But when it comes to celebrating the incredible work of this industry, to inspire and educate its devotees, New York generally cedes to that little spot on the French Riviera each June.


In recent years, however, the city that never sleeps has been doing a little flag waving of its own, proudly presenting Advertising Week, a late September gathering of advertising’s greatest minds. While it doesn’t have the rosé sipping cachet of Cannes, the festival, now in its fifth year, is really starting to shine. Matt Scheckner and Jillian Mellone, Advertising Week’s Executive Director and VP of Marketing & Account Management respectively, graciously invited us to pop on down to New York to check out the event. Since we love the insanity that is Manhattan, and since a number of ihaveanidea’s partners would also be there, how could we resist?

One of Ad Week’s greatest strengths is also its weakness. Because it takes part in a city populated by thousands of people in the advertising industry and related fields, attendance and participation is quite high. There’s no transatlantic flight or expensive hotel rooms to book for most attendees; most participants are a short walk or cab ride from the various venues. On the flip side, this leads to many people ducking out back to the office midday, or going home to their lofts at the end of the day. There’s no Ad Week equivalent to the Carlton Hotel terrace or Gutter Bar, where everyone, both important and self-important, shows up to schmooze, socialize and add to their business card collections. Instead, Ad Week seems geared to people setting up social meetings in advance, going off to restaurants and bars all over Manhattan. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that, especially with the multitude of food and drink options in New York. It’s just not set up for random encounters in central locations on palm tree dappled avenues.

The lack of said palm trees and sandy beaches is also a good thing for Ad Week, as it ensures that people are more interested in attending the dozens of sessions and seminars throughout the week. With no sunscreen worries to distract, people seem very eager to attend the various workshops. Ignacio and I did our share of these, and we’d just like to highlight a few of them, especially ones where our ihaveanidea partners were participating.

One of the first sessions we sat in on was presented by our pals at VCU Brandcenter. Entitled Operation: Inspire, this presentation was part of Advertising Futures, a program that encourages New York City high school students to consider advertising as a possible career choice, and to strive for higher education in order to reach that career. This particular panel involved many students from local high schools listening to the stories of handful of VCU Brandcenter alumni, starting from their own high school days, eventually leading to college, the Brandcenter and the industry. We were pleasantly surprised to hear one of the panelists mention that a little old website called ihaveanidea.org and its Ask Jancy column played a big part in guiding him into the business. We’ve said it time and time again, but it bears repeating: stories like that make everything we do at ihaveanidea worthwhile.

D&AD was also at Ad Week, crossing the Atlantic for two separate sessions. The first was a showcase of some of the work from this year’s D&AD Awards. Chuck Porter, founder of Crispin Porter + Bogusky and Ad Week Co-Chair, emceed the session, which gave everyone a little taste of what it takes to make it into their annual and to win one of their Yellow or Black Pencils, one of the most coveted prizes in our industry. Of course, to get more than just a taste, ihaveanidea and D&AD will be bringing a much larger show and after party to a number of North American cities over the next few weeks. It’s the first time D&AD has done anything like this over on our side of the pond, so be sure to check out all the info right here.

D&AD’s second session focused on the educational side of this non-profit organization, and talked about what it takes to break into the business. Very inspiring for students, graduates and interns slogging away at trying to make an impact, the session featured a presentation by Wade Convay, Art Director/Designer from R/GA. We managed to capture most of the session on video.

I don’t know what it was, but we kept on being drawn to the education focused sessions at Ad Week, and the biggest one of these was the Advertising Futures Student Presentation, brought to Ad Week by Adobe. The idea seemed simple enough: student teams from 28 different high schools were each partnered with an advertising agency and given a single creative brief. The assignment? Create an ad to promote BoostUp, a program designed to keep kids from dropping out of high school. The student teams had some time to work on their ideas, visiting their agencies and learning about the industry while working toward a cause that was extremely relevant to them. That day, all 28 teams proudly presented their work before a judging panel. The first prize team would have their ad featured in the New York Times, but really (and this will sound very cheesy, but who cares) all of the participants were winners, since they learned firsthand about a fascinating career option, as well as educated themselves about a social epidemic.

In the end, congratulations were in order for the team from William Cullen Bryant High School of Long Island City. Their campaign, aided by Avrett Free Ginsburg, was based off of the very personal experiences of one of the teammates. It was polished, yet very real, and even moved some audience members to tears. We sat next to Rick Boyko throughout the session, and the VCU Director remarked “These kids put on a presentation that was better than some grad student ones I’ve seen.”

Now all work and no play makes Brett and Ignacio some dull boys, so we were also happy to catch some of Ad Week’s evening entertainment. Throughout the week there were shows by Big Boi of OutKast and N*E*R*D, but it was hard to beat the wrap party, featuring the legendary Ziggy Marley & The Melody Makers. Like most concerts, we weren’t allowed to bring in our big bad video cameras, but that didn’t stop us from capturing the moment on our point and shoots.

All in all, the fifth incarnation of Advertising Week was an intriguing and inspiring event. No, it’ll never replace the joys of staggering home completely blotto along La Croisette, but it’s not hard to enjoy yourself celebrating Madison Avenue in such close proximity to the actual Madison Avenue.


Brett McKenzie
Chief Writer/SBN2
ihaveanidea






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