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COUNTDOWN TO 2000;GET READY FOR THE BUZZ OVER 21ST CENTURY . . .WHENEVER IT BEGINS

By Published on .

Bill Clinton promises to build a bridge to the 21st century, but he won't be walking across it with us unless presidential term limits are changed.

The millennium doesn't officially start until Jan. 1, 2001. The year 2000 will actually mark the beginning of the last year of the 20th century.

As usual, the public will want to call it something. The challenge, as illustrated by syndicated columnist Cecil Adams, is figuring out how to refer to the next decade in a catchy, memorable way.

Mr. Adams ran nicknames through the search feature of the electronic Oxford English Dictionary, and the results included hundreds, aughts, aughties, naughts, naughties, zeroes, zips, zilches, ohs, and double-Os. Back in 1988, he proposed "the Naughty Aughties." Not very catchy.

Despite that, when triple nine becomes triple zero, it'll be significant for consumers and marketers alike.

"I think the smarter companies are going to power through with a one year party, beginning in 2000 with 2001 as the crescendo," says Watts Wacker, futurist at SRI Consulting.

FUTURE IS NOW

According to some event marketing folks, the future is now and the planning is about to begin.

"End-of-the-millennium events are the next big thing on the horizon, but no one has quite decided how to approach it yet," says Tony Pace, managing director of Momentum IMC, New York, the event-marketing arm of McCann-Erickson Worldwide.

Andrew Kritzer, senior manager, marketing communications at Samsung Electronics America, agrees with that logic. Though the marketer hasn't made any firm decisions, Samsung may not capitalize on the turn of the century at all. Regarding possible advertising campaigns for the company during that time, Mr. Kritzer says, "I think it will be advertising that focuses on the change in technology."

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