"Advertising is back. Marketing is back," crowed Eric Hadley, VP-marketing for Microsoft Corp. at the 93rd annual conference, attended by a record 560 participants.
"There's a new energy among our marketers not shared by the pundits," said ANA president-CEO Bob Liodice. He cited TNS Media Intelligence/CMR reports that ad spending is up 7% in the first half of this year compared to the same time period in 2002, exceeding estimates. "I'm bullish for the entire marketing spectrum in 2004."
But while TV advertising will remain a significant part of the mix, talk at the conference focused heavily on other media's contributions. Attendees noted that TV has grown more fragmented and specialized and lost some of its impact in the Internet age. Moreover, they are concerned about technology innovations such as TiVo that allow one to record programs and skip commercials.
"Television is still the No. 1 way to advertise, but I think in the last few years you're seeing people utilize other things not so much as a replacement for television but as a way to augment their brands," said Dawn Hudson, president of Pepsi-Cola North America.
"People who believe in building their brand are expanding," said Mr. Hadley, "and they're finding other, integral components [beyond TV] of their marketing."
TV "is still the most powerful way to reach people with a message," said James Garrity, exec VP-chief marketing officer for Wachovia. "For us it's important because we're an immature company still trying to grow its brand." But he added, "Frankly, I think what people like Home Depot and Coca-Cola are doing is fascinating."
Mr. Garrity was referring to the marketers' tie-ins with TV programs that integrate their brands within those shows. Home Depot has a sponsorship deal with TLC's "Trading Spaces" in which it provides materials in exchange for in-show promotion, and Coca-Cola has an arrangement with "American Idol" on News Corp.'s Fox.
"I think most businesses are planning on increasing spending and being aggressive in the marketplace, but now there are so many great mediums to pick and choose from," said Mark LaNeve, general manager of the Cadillac division of General Motors, the nation's No. 1 advertiser.
Robert A. Lutz, vice chairman-product development and chairman of GM North America, came down firmly on the side of TV advertising but added that a commercial has to perform. "It's great if an ad breaks through the clutter, but it only has real impact if it leaves the viewer with an enhanced view of the brand."
Even master of ceremonies Bill O'Reilly said the impact of TV advertising was not the spark that lit the fire for his successful program, "The O'Reilly Factor." In recounting Fox News Channel's dramatic rise to the top of the cable news ratings, Mr. O'Reilly said, "We did this on our own, by word of mouth."