Thursday, May 1, 2008

An alternative view of the 4As conference

Ken Krimstein at Partners and Jeary sent me a link to the agency's new blog yesterday. (Krimstein and Jeary, at left, are seen here gesticulating wildly.) Let's just say that they have another viewpoint on the excitement that is coursing through the industry at a time when it is being entirely up-ended. Here's a snippet from their 4As, um, coverage: "Tennis and Golf were cancelled!!! Because we are 'in the most exciting period ever in this business,' or some such hoo-haa. If I hear another panjandrum who made their gazillions in the days of old, interruptive media, describe today's current, insane, web 2.0 (soon to be web 3.0, 4.0, etc.) world as 'the most exciting period ever in this business,' I think I'm going to choke on my virtual martini." As much as I'm a supporter of all this change, I know what he means. (Oh, here's the panjandrum definition you've been looking for: " An important personage or pretentious official."


Anonymous said...


Me? I’d rather talk to The Taliban in Kandahar, Afghanistan on why the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed were excellent likenesses of the old coot than present to the Four A’s Oratory Critique Committee that meets annually to throw metaphorical tomatoes at whoever is fool enough to step on their stage.
I know a guy who spoke last year down in Naples, Florida. Nice fellow, but naïve. Woefully naïve.
How naïve is woefully naive? Well, the fool took the assigned topic (Return on Investment) and proposed an investment that anyone in attendance (advertiser, agency, media) could turn a neat profit on for years to come.
He didn’t realize how “rudimentary, self-serving, stating the obvious, predictable” (Sawyer, NY Times, 4/28/08)it was to suggest that the ad business could elevate itself by bringing in, training, using the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He allowed himself to be introduced by a buffoon who graciously invited him to the podium with these flattering syllables: “Our next fellow claims to have invested $2.50 in his agency and turned it into one that went on to have more than one billion dollars in media billing.” The speaker, I know for a fact, also claimed to have been invited and, if pressed, would have claimed to be a U.S. citizen.
For this, he put an presentation together, including a video interview with two Iraq War Veterans who now work at ad agencies, and paid for his and his wife’s transportation. (Although, she claimed to have used frequent flyer miles and her claims I, for one, would not dare think of challenging.)
One attendee was so long truant from the conferences and, at the same time, critical of last year’s speeches (“I hadn’t been in five or six years and I swear to you, one of those speeches was the exact same speech from my last conference.”) that they made her President of the 4 A’s at a salary more than twice the salary of the President of the United States. In a real campaign for President, these days, some enterprising reporter would go back over the last five years to see if, indeed, one of the speeches was the same. Sniper fire all over again.
Truth is the Four A’s only has value in:
a) Lobbying in Washington DC or in states where there is pending legislation destructive to the ad business, and endeavoring to publicize the value advertising brings to consumers and producers
b) Group life and health insurance for member agencies that might benefit from the added weight
c) Coordinating public service advertising
d) Working to achieve a more diverse industry, an industry that might even see an added diversity in war veterans
e) Participating in negotiations with unions that impact the ad business
f) Social
On this last point, tennis and golf are now banned from the conferences, along with other attempts at civility such as dinner and dancing.
The Times headline writer Monday wrote “The Four A’s Tries to Rebuild Momentum.” My guess is that the organization should scuttle the conference altogether as it appears--through its spokespeople-- to have adopted an American Idol “OK Enlighten Me” attitude to those brave enough to step to the podium. Whom will Ms. Sawyer find wanting this time?
Or create Momentum by having the next conference in a place where no millisecond of pleasure is likely to seep through on this Puritan renewal known as the Leadership Conference. Kandahar, of course. Where else?

George Parker said...

As usual, an erudite, piss taking post. Even if you don't say fuck as often as I do... Which means you will never overtake me on the "Cuss-O-Meter!" I thought maybe Tom's comment, 90% of which made perfect sense, was an apres lunch fuelled effort. Then I looked at the time of posting... Perhaps he had been up all night... Either way, He's always a great read. Time for my final lunch drinkie-poo... Yes, the third martini.

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

Actually I wrote it the morning of The Times ad column. Sent it as a fax to Tom Carroll. I thought it would amuse him since the value of the 4A's was being positioned in that column as rising and falling on some random speakers and the ability to organize a conference.
I would've trashed the comments except that they seemed relevant to this Adverganza discussion. (Although maybe I should have gone to lunch before posting it, in the interest of rhetoric.)