In separate speeches to the nearly 1,000 attendees at the American Advertising Federation's annual conference in Atlanta this week, the group's chairman, Murray Gaylord, VP-marketing and customer insights at NYTimes.com, and AAF president-CEO Wallace S. Snyder cautioned that the combination of potential political changes in Washington in the fall election and recession-related tax woes in the states create the dynamic for severe new pressure on the industry.
Florida tax revolt
Mr. Gaylord, who said a "storm is brewing," noted as an example a Florida ballot proposal this fall to cut property taxes by 30%, suggesting its passage could put pressure on the state's legislators to replace the revenue with a service tax that could target advertising.
Mr. Snyder, delivering his valedictorian speech as head of AAF -- he retires this fall after 16 years as the group's CEO -- said the potential fight increases the importance of the connections AAF members make to the community in local ad clubs. He said the ad industry needs to continue to aggressively promote self-regulation as an alternative to government regulation and to "take charge" in expanding opportunities in the industry to minorities.
"Much has happened, yet there is much more to do," said Mr. Snyder, citing as accomplishments during his tenure the establishment of the AAF Hall of Achievement and the recognition it gives to professionals under 40 years old; programs to recognize the most promising minority students; continuation of the national student advertising competition; and successful fights against regulation.