Ad world gets showcase in NYC

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The American Association of Advertising Agencies wants to raise Madison Avenue's profile with an ambitious cultural showcase in the industry's hometown, New York City.

The event, tentatively called New York Advertising Week, will begin in fall 2004. "The idea is not an award show but a celebration of all aspects of advertising. It's a great opportunity for clients, media and agencies to increase the interest in advertising, which is one of New York's biggest industries," said Ken Kaess, current 4A's chairman and president-CEO of Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide.

Scheckner to manage

The event will be managed by Matthew Scheckner, who joined the association last month as executive director. Mr. Scheckner, 38, a sports and event marketing expert, has set meetings with a slew of potential partners and sponsors and is currently putting together a program of events in conjunction with a 4A's committee.

"We want to contemporize the industry and make it fresh, young, hip and cool to work in advertising," he said. "We are defining advertising as broadly as you can."

Yahoo! has already signed on as the first of an expected eight to twelve sponsors of the festival, which will be held just after the Republican National Convention in September 2004. The Association of National Advertisers plans to hold its sponsorship and event marketing conference that week in Manhattan as well, while the 4A's creative conference will hold its event in the Big Apple for the first time.

musical ties

Mr. Scheckner is exploring tie-ins with Broadway and the music business, including talking to the League of American Theatres & Producers about how theater advertising might play a role in the event. He's also looking at potential music and film components.

The event was prompted by an ongoing discussion at the 4A's about how to reinforce the value of advertising. The association felt that the music industry has a strong presence in New York City with concerts and Viacom's MTV studio in Times Square. Also, film is celebrated through the nascent Tribeca Film Festival and fashion through the various Fashion Week events.

capturing imagination

The 4A's felt that advertising could also capture the public imagination in a similar way. "Objective No. 1 is to boost the perception of the industry and to stress its importance to New York's image and economy. Advertising is also a place where many creative people start," said Mr. Scheckner, referencing former jingle writer Barry Manilow and film director Ridley Scott.

While many of the plans are still embryonic, it is hoped that the stars that have appeared in ads might make an appearance. The event is likely to include some classic advertising archive collections currently housed at universities and museums around the country.

Also under review is a potential road show to publicize the benefits and achievements of the advertising industry to Washington D.C. politicos.

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