In "The Moneychangers" episode in the Bible (John 2:13-16, to be exact), Jesus drops by a temple in Jerusalem and finds it overrun by sheep, pigs and salesmen cutting deals. "Do not make my father's house a house of merchandise," Jesus scolds, driving them out with a cracking whip.
Thankfully, Jesus wasn't invited to the Association of Independent Commercial Producers annual party this year, which took place in the shadow of the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The sacred Egyptian ruin was surrounded by a mob of modern-day blasphemers, mostly commercial spot directors, producers and agency creatives-chatting each other up, shouting into cellphones, drinking rivers of booze and smoking cigarettes.
"We allow smoking for only a few very special events," a museum staffer confided to Adages. "This unfortunately is one of them."
A special event indeed. The AICP show is the best party in the business. Unlike the tediously long, self-congratulatory trophy-hoisting rituals at other ad festivals, the AICP Show features a lively screening of award-winning commercial work, mercifully void of ceremony. The buffet dinner was laid out in front of the temple steps, which once faced the Nile. "It's like we're on the set of `Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,' " shrieked a delighted Kathrin Lausch, executive producer of Treat Films, a New York commercial-production company.
Although most AICP partygoers, who paid $500 a pop to be there, blissfully tripped through the night, a few talked about the fall of Propaganda Films, once the premiere commercial-production company, and the dramatic slowdown in commercial production during the recession, with too many directors and production companies chasing too few jobs. "There are only 30 or 40 directors actually working," said Bob Greenberg, CEO of R/GA, a production company turned interactive agency. "But there are 2,000 directors out there." Which is close to the number of revelers who were frolicking among the museum mummies and sarcophagi. (AICP counted 1600 people.)
Where there is smoke, there are mirrors
Daniel Forbes, the journalist who revealed last January that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy cut deals with TV networks to weave anti-drug messages, like product placement, into the story lines of TV shows, has a new ax to grind. This time it's Bob Taft, the Republican governor of Ohio, whom he accuses of plotting with the Partnership for a Drug-Free America to create a partisan political campaign against a drug-reform initiative in the state. In a rambling 43-page report posted on the Web site of the Institute for Policy Studies (ips-dc.org), a left-wing think tank, Dan alleges Taft, his wife, Hope Taft and the PDFA spent government money planning a campaign against a state initiative that would promote treatment instead of criminal sentences for simple drug possession. Unfortunately, there's not a whiff of a smoking gun in the report other than some publicly available transcripts of meetings between the alleged conspirators, and there are no sources for his story, because no one returned Dan's phone calls. Finally, there is no ad campaign and it doesn't appear that there will be one. Did they call it off? "That's a darn good question," Dan, who writes for High Times, tells Adages, "they're not telling me. The Partnership hasn't returned my phone calls for five years." The PDFA did return Adages call. "We've never created any advertising to influence the outcome of drug based referenda in any state," said Steve Dnistrian, director of public affairs. "Clearly, Dan is smoking some of the wacky weed that he has a great affection for when he is sitting down writing these things."
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