The Date: Sept. 26, 2007
The Venue: The Gaf, New York
The Crowd: Mid-level digital account execs for DraftFCB, Neo@Ogilvy, Real Media Group, Mindshare, MEC/Outrider, Mediavest, IAC, VML, McCann and Carat
The Food: A frat-tastic surplus of John's pizza and buffalo wings
The Bar: The ultimate open keg -- all the beer you can drink, and then some. The name of the event was Beerfest, after all. Coors, Miller, Bud -- you name it, someone chugged it.
Now that Advertising Week is nearly done, Freeloader could only think of one remedy for three long days of two-hour panels and constant networking: beer! And lots of it.
So we hoofed it to Hell's Kitchen to check out the biweekly tournament organized by virtually every major digital agency that isn't Digitas, OMD or Grey. Upon arrival, we had to give the event organizers immediate props for atmosphere: The Gaf is exactly like every dive bar you'd find in a college town, complete with a frat-sized basement (read: seven-feet tall and L-shaped). Clearly, the bar's name stands for "Great American Frathouse."
Additional points were instantly rewarded for the players who showed extra dedication to the "sport" that was about to be played. Each team was named after a random country, and some even had a defined wardrobe -- Team America sported camouflage tops and sashes of Rambo ammo; Team Azerbaijan had matching homemade T-shirts, etc. Given that it was Advertising Week, we can't fault too many of the other teams for not putting extra consideration or time into their wardrobes -- they probably had to sit through three-hour panels about new names for young consumers all week too.
So the name of the game was beer, and the goal was to pit five-member teams against each other in heated matches of Flip Cup and Beer Pong. For those who graduated college sometime before 2000, here's a quick debriefing: Beer Pong is just like pingpong, only you don't use rackets and you have to drink beer out of cups where dirty pingpong balls have just landed. Flip Cup is even simpler: drink all the beer in your cup, place it upside down on the edge of the table and then try to flip it back upright before the person across from you does.
Like our new beer-swilling compadres, Freeloader knows a thing or two about both of these college sports, so we offered to take in the proceedings as an active observer, if you will. We didn't actually play along, but we made sure our beer consumption was right on par with the players.
Our favorite match-up was the one between Team Azerbaijan (or DraftFCB) and Team Holland (or IAC), which turned into a girls vs. boys drink-off. Freeloader has always been one to champion the underdog, so when the game play came down to one female Azerbaijani and four male Hollanders, we knew who to root for. The DraftFCB-er gave it her all, successfully chugging and flipping four cups in a row. But just as she went to grab the fifth, Team Holland turned over the winning cup, leaving our hopes of her pulling a Wolfhouse-style victory in the dust. (What, you didn't see "Beerfest" the movie?)
After watching two more rounds in one seriously sweaty basement, Freeloader decided to check out early. But not because we were tired of the gameplay -- we had to go grab more drinks with a source. A Freeloading drinker's work is never done during Advertising Week.