Friday, September 28, 2007

Advertising Week's last panel hit its target

I've had an obsession with Advertising Week attendance all last week and figured that maybe, as the last panel of the week, and, as one of inherently targeted appeal, Hispanic 2.0 might not get a big audience. Instead, it had about as many attendees as Martha Stewart, and far more than TV producer Michael Davies, both of whom aim their wares at Americans of all races, colors and creeds. So what is Hispanic 2.0, you ask? It's second generation Hispanics—bilingual, and usually with one foot in Latino culture and one foot not. But if the use of "2.0" seemed like an attempt to simply borrow some Internet lingo, the name actually fit both from an online perspective and an offline one. It was readily apparent that the panelists— Maria Lopez-Knowles, Senior Vice President, MRM Worldwide; Joe Santa, Senior Art Director, Corbis; Gonzalo Perez, Director of Multicultural Research and Consumer Insights, MTV Networks; and Chris Velasco, Director, Branded Entertainment, MSN—see Web 2.0 as central to targeting not only second-generation Hispanics—a splinter group from first generation—but the many splinter groups within Hispanic 2.0, from New York natives whose parents are from Puerto Rico, to Latinos in L.A. whose parents come from Mexico. In fact, given the difficulties of targeting using older media, it would have been hard to have a serious discussion about targeting second-generation anyone specifically ten years ago. Thankfully, times have changed.

How can the globe warm up to us?

I went to Keith Reinhard's Brand America Part 2 presentation yesterday and came away sorry that I couldn't stay until it ended. (It was my turn to drive the 5 p.m. shuttle to soccer practice.) Reinhard, who in his post-DDB life is president of a group called Business for Diplomatic Action, is all hot and bothered about America's declining status as a world brand, ranking, according to a BBC study conducted earlier this year, between Iran and North Korea. "On this survey, at least, we have joined the axis of evil," he said. So, the point of yesterday's seminar was to have four advertising, um, entities crack the following hypothetical scenario: if the government gave you $500 million a year for four years, how would you use that money to improve Brand America? The reason I say entities is because the four presenters were two teams from Rick Boyko's VCU Adcenter (BTW, when did Boyko start to look like Dan Wieden?), a guy from Draft FCB who described himself as Indian-Canadian but I didn't catch his name, and a team from Tribal DDB. (I hear that Tribal DDB won with an idea called "united states of mind" but I missed the presentation, and, no, the panel of judges did not include anyone from DDB.) But the winner wasn't the point, I don't think, as much as looking at interesting ways to work on a vexing problem. The two presentations by the VCU kids weren't flawless but they weren't half-bad either. Better than what I saw of DraftFCB's, which centered on the U.S. improving its image by taking the lead on fighting global warming—I found it a bit patronizing. But the VCU teams both aimed at finding the common ground that citizens of the world have with one another, using technology ranging from widgets to face-mapping as the underpinnings of their ideas. We spend a lot of time in this business trying to figure out twentysomethings—this exercise underscored how different their perspective is. The word "TV" was never mentioned.
Will any of this work get produced? Probably not. Then again, with Reinhard making this his current passion, hey, you never know.

Digital CEOs take over creative discussion

I hadn't really looked at who the panelists were before walking into Stuart Elliott's CEO Summit on creative yesterday, so I found it notable that it had such a major focus on digital—and that the digitally literate seemed to have the most to say. (BTW, this panel was billed as "sold out" also, but there were plenty of seats in the room.) OK, go ahead and accuse me of putting the business in nice, neat silos, but from the digital side were Tribal DDB's Matt Freeman, Bob Greenberg from R/GA, Organic CEO Mark Kingdon, and—as what might be described as the bridge over troubled waters—Steve Hayden from Ogilvy. Then there was Y&R's Hamish McClellan, Deutsch's Linda Sawyer and Grey's Steve Hardwick. Surprise!—nothing was resolved concerning the ongoing debate about how to adjust to what's going on today, so I decided to just do a rundown here of the best sound bites:

Hayden: "[Google] is a very distinctive culture where they have an algorithm for everything. They probably have an algorithm for paper usage in the public restroom."

Elliott: "[The ad execs] who are impeding the progress [of the industry] are the same people who think 'Mad Men' is a documentary."

Hardwick/Elliott: Upon hearing Hardwick say that Grey wants to be "a tradigital agency," Elliott commented, "It's two, two, two agencies in one!"

Kingdon: "If you were starting over from scratch you wouldn't structure [agencies] the way they are today."

Hayden: "The Internet is vast, brutal and cruel and clients have to toughen up."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Things you didn't know about Martha Stewart

So, the allegedly "almost full" interview with Martha Stewart had a healthy crowd but wasn't almost full. (She's pictured at left signing autographs and below with Pat Mitchell, who heads the Paley Center.) I'm thinking that if I were to organize Advertising Week—a parlor game among us ad industry observers—that I'd not bill anything as "almost full" or "sold out." Half the people who say they're going to show up don't, and people who decide they want to go late in the game decide not to because they think there won't be a seat. We all know Martha's substantial back story, which was amply addressed during the interview, so I thought I'd just pull out a few factoids that you probably wouldn't have known unless you were there, or read this post:

—Kids refer to her as "Marthastewart" (one word).
—She has shopped at Kohl's at least once, and picked up the jacket she was wearing from Vera Wang's Kohl's line for a lo, lo $128.
—She's about to produce her first food line, in partnership with Costco, and the first product will be a smoked ham reminiscent of the ones from a butcher on the Lower East Side she had as a kid.
—She has a MySpace page.
—For her "own self-confidence," she has to come up with 5 or 10 ideas every day. "It doesn't have to be a complex thing. It has to be a good thing," she explained. Then she quoted Einstein.

Humor in advertising: it's actually funny

Speaking of Advertising Week attendance, doesn't it seem a little bizarre that Monday's panel at the Time Life Building featuring the inert Travelocity gnome as one of the panelists outdrew the one on humor in advertising yesterday morning that featured "Curb Your Enthusiasm"'s Susie Essman; Alan Zweibel, who was one of the original SNL writers; Robert Mancoff, the cartoon editor of The New Yorker and, oh, yeah, TBWA/Chiat/Day's Gerry Graf and Teresa Iezzi of Ad Age Creativity? Well, anyway... though one got the feeling that the non-advertising types on the panel had never seen most the ads that were screened, the audience—mostly made up of ad execs—must have found it gratifying to see how impressed Zweibel, Essman and Mancoff were with the state of humor in advertising today, particularly TBWA's weird-o-licious "Berries and Creme" spot for Starburst. " I wonder if I could have done that," said Zweibel. Which brings me to the above commercial. One attendee asked Graf if there was ever a commercial he let get produced even though he didn't find it particularly funny. He mentioned this one with the Skittles-serving beard. His initial reaction when it was pitched to him: "Oh, wow, a magic beard. That's great."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Media changes, but discussing it does not

The coolest thing about the CEO Media Summit at The New York Times headquarters yesterday was that it was at the new New York Times building, still somewhat under construction. Still, while everything surrounding the panel was new, the panel itself, which has been held every year of Advertising Week was one of those that you feel probably wasn't that different last year, or the year before, or the year before that. This is not, by the way, the fault of any of the participants, or the moderator, Stuart Elliott. You could see that the people who run media agencies—the five panelists, as the name of the panel implies, all had CEO in their title—are an incredibly smart, astute bunch, but, as it is with all of us, there's a degree of confusion about how to structure things going forward that escapes even the industry's best minds. Laura Desmond, CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group summed up the ever-shifting sands nicely, "Do consumers become our new clients and our clients become our new partners?" Good question. Now, if someone could just provide the answer. Picture via

You missed the World Series of Darts!

The best seminar/workshop/panel I went to so far this week was yesterday morning's Mediaweek Conversation between my former Mediaweek colleague Michael Burgi, and Michael Davies, the television producer who brought "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and "The Power of Ten" stateside. And a completely one-on-one conversation it almost was, as only about ten people showed up. Now, looking back at the agenda, I can see why it was so sparsely attended. There were a total of 8 (eight!) seminars/workshops/panels going on yesterday morning, ranging from Craig Newmark's keynote about "The New Empowered Consumers" to the Advertising Research Foundation's seminar on word of mouth. If Advertising Week has been at times been accused of overscheduling, its organizers certainly haven't gotten the message that it still is. It's sad, though, because Davies, a Brit and sports fan, intermingled humorous anecdotes with insights on the collision of advertising, content and new distribution platforms. Oh, and then there's the World Series of Darts. The Series, which he hopes will be a huge success here, treats "these big, fat" dart throwers like WWE stars, and it plays overseas to crazed audiences both watching on TV and watching live—the people watching live doing dances and drinking lots of beer. The one thing that Davies admitted is missing is a domestic beer sponsor, something that he doesn't think will happen right away, since he claims that brewers here want to position their products these days as upscale. "That's not what beer is," he said.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Life among the advertising icons

Sorry not to post for much of the day. I was far, far from Advertising Week doing something, that, unbelievably, was actually more important than Advertising Week. Anyway, my last panel of yesterday was the famous—or infamous?—panel entitled, "Do Advertising Icons Drive Brands?" which promised "to integrate top CMOs and leading Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame Icons" and was moderated by Ad Age's Jonah Bloom. This may not be one of the questions that defines our times, but I wanted to find out: were they really going to put, say, Mr. Peanut up there with the CMO of Ford? Well, they weren't on the guest list, but here's what visitors saw from left to right (sorry I don't know everyone's names; they were not in the official program, and I'm sorry my picture isn't so great): A picture of the new, hot Mr. Goodwrench, a marketing executive from Mr. Goodwrench, the gnome from Travelocity, a guy from Travelocity, the Serta sheep, a guy from either Serta or its agency, the Maytag Repairman, Clay, and an executive from Maytag. Two Chik-Fil-A cows roamed the stage, often appearing to taunt Bloom, while the Vlasic Pickle stork and one dejected butterly from MSN looked on from the audience. No. You can't make this shit up. My favorite moment had to be when Bloom asked the panelists (those that could speak anyway) who their favorite ad icon of all time was. John, the guy representing Serta, replied brightly, "I gotta tell ya ... I've always been fascinated by the Ty-D-Bol man. He's a guy who lives in your toilet." Here, here.

Mixing it up at a packed MIXX

After the Ad Club of New York luncheon (see below), I decided to stop by the Interactive Advertising Bureau's MIXX Conference at the Crowne Plaza in Times Square, and though I sat through a fairly engaging panel on "Content without Borders" (I'm a geek—what can I say?), the most interesting thing about the conference was how completely packed it was. I ended up at the content panel—which may have had as many 150 attendees—because I was turned away at the door of the panel moderated by my former Adweek colleague Brian Morrissey on search, and there was one other session going on at that time besides. Let's do the math—that's about 450 people attending panels. I also had a good chat with former IAB chief and current iPhone owner Greg Stuart. I know he's doing something these days—I just don't know what.
But the following meeting of the minds, or addled brains, summed up the vibe at MIXX. I had a brief conversation/collision with Joseph Jaffe, and Morrissey, post-panel, at the top of the escalators, which is, I admit, a particularly dumb place to stand at a packed conference. Words of greeting were briefly exchanged. Morrissey pulled out his cell phone; Jaffe pulled out his iPhone, saying to us, "I hear Facebook got bought today. By Microsoft." (That's not true ... yet.) Then we all went our separate ways.

It's true. Schwarzenegger appears at Advertising Week

The first highlight of the Ad Club of New York's lunch honoring Bobby Shriver for his (Product) RED work was that brother -in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger dropped by. (I know my two pictures here aren't great, but but I'm a writer not a photographer dammit! In the one at left, you can see Arnold's profile and in the bottom right hand corner, Russell Simmons; and in the second you can see O. Burtch Drake in the bottom left hand corner, and, if you have really good eyesight, Arnold off to Drake's right. "O." is not a luminary, exactly, but pictured here to confirm that this was, indeed, an Ad Club event). Showing up was all Arnold did, but let's just say that the discernible buzz in the room made sightings of mere mortals like Ron Berger, Trey Laird and Tom Carroll a whole lot less interesting. Just think of what would've happened if Bono had shown up. (He only appeared by videotape claiming that he didn't come because Bobby is taller than he is.)
The second highlight, provided by Russell Simmons, came when he took the podium and claimed that a standard opening line when Shriver gets on the phone—and apparently he's on the phone a lot—is "Im working for the poor people. What the fuck are you doing?"
Shriver for his part, outshone even at his own event by the aforementioned Arnold, Simmons, sister Maria and cousin Caroline, said,"It's so great being [known as] Bono's partner, because growing up I was President Kennedy's nephew." For him, it was clear that the highlight was the—I believe unplanned—speech given to the audience by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the minister of foreign affairs of Nigeria, who just happened to be in town for something or other at the UN. She gave an impassioned speech asking the audience to help rebrand Africa, which she said Product (RED) was already doing by putting people in Africa to work. One thing I hadn't realized—and I'm sure this point had been lost on much of the audience—is that some of the products in the RED portfolio are actually being made in Africa, particularly some of these cool Converse shoes.
There was one thing I found annoying: For all the luminaries that were there it was troubling to hear the guys from Modernista!, who developed the advertising, simply referred to as "the guys from Modernista." Though Shriver made the audience recognize them a second time because they weren't in the room during their first chance to stand and wave, it would have been good to hear their names. OK, enough quibbling. I had fun and isn't life all about me having fun?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Adverganza's Monday morning picks, 09.24.07

I'm going to be doing a lot of Advertising Week stuff today but figured I at least owed you my Monday morning picks, wherein—chorus—I scan the headlines so you don't have to.

From Advertising Age:

—OK, so Andy Berndt is running an in-house marketing something-or-other at Google.
—The Dove "Real Beauty" campaign may need a shot of Botox.
—A story about Lowe New York continuing to suck.
—Did GSD&M really write Martin's new Wal-Mart tagline?
—Holy Mother of God! HeadOn sales up 234 percent.
—Bob Garfield sees problems with Macy's new celebrity-filled campaign—but, what the hell, still gives it three stars.

From The New York Times:

—No matter what you think, the Times says that Jonah Bloom did not kill the parade of mascots, no longer featured during Advertising Week. At least not alone.
Everybody's watching DVDs of television series.

From Adweek (I'd show you the cover but it's a broken link on their site):

—What? Consumers are skeptical of advertising? So says a survey conducted by JWT and Adweek about what people think of advertising. There's no byline on the story, but I'm guessing it was written by Marian Salzman.
—In today's Art & Commerce, somebody goes on about the growth in online lead generation, but again, there's no byline.
—Brian Morrissey on whether what the Web giants really want to do when they grow up is be ad agencies.
—Now media agencies are hiring CMOs.
—Shockingly, Bobby Shriver doesn't give an exclusive Q&A on Product (RED) to Ad Age.
—Barbara Lippert thinks the new eBay spots are soooo 1999, but not necessarily in a bad way. (You can't see the spots at, but here's a link to them on YouTube).

From The Wall Street Journal (subscription required):

—Microsoft hires Burson-Marsteller (what? not Waggener Edstrom?) to tell people why Google's DoubleClick deal is evil.

From Mediapost:

Todd Oldham is the new creative director at Old Navy.
—JWT says that women own more game consoles than men.
USA Today will open a store at LaGuardia. Really.
Another bump in the road for Nielsen's commercial ratings service.
—Now that NBC has left iTunes, Fox has jumped in.