WHEN MORE REALLY MEANS LESS

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A reporter's-eye view of the Association of National Advertisers conference, held in San Diego last week:

Paying guests: Though ANA officials proclaimed their delight at having 500 people at this year's conference, the big numbers mask a continuing trend: fewer marketer/members attending, more media salespeople. Only about 60 marketer companies were included on the ANA's official registration list, with less than 100 people attending from those companies. ANA claims 750 member companies.

Hay-wired: Points to GTE Corp. Assistant VP David Neisius for using a laser disc player for his presentation on GTE's new-media technologies-and getting the machine to work for the entire speech. Jane Metcalfe, president and co-founder of Wired, wasn't as lucky; her Apple PowerBook went goofy, abruptly ending her demonstration of Wired's new interactive service.

Peter who?: ANA had to make a last-minute substitution in its program when speaker Ed Volkwein left his post as senior VP-marketing at Sega of America. His slot-the last on the program-was filled by Peter Sealey, former Coca-Cola Co. and Interactive Network executive who's now a teacher and consultant.

Unfortunately Mr. Sealey's name doesn't seem to have the pull it did last year, when he spoke to the ANA about the relationship he helped engineer between Coca-Cola and Creative Artists Agency-and predicted ad agencies were becoming obsolete. The ANA meeting room was quickly emptying out while Mr. Sealey was at the podium.

Lou, Lou, Lou: Deciding that the conference program needed a moderator, ANA hired CNN "Moneyline" star Lou Dobbs for the job. Mr. Dobbs proved OK in keeping the conversation flowing, but relentlessly and shamelessly shilled for cable TV. "So you say [viewers] are leaving broadcast TV?" he asked one speaker during a question-and-answer session. "Maybe that's a good note to end on."

Still waiting: Time Warner's much-delayed superhighway in Orlando was the butt of several jokes both from the podium and in the corridors at ANA. When asked about the status of the Orlando experiment, Time Inc. President-CEO Don Logan deadpanned: "It's still scheduled to be in Orlando," which got the biggest laugh of the conference. Then BBDO CEO Allen Rosenshine told attendees he refused to predict which interactive platforms would succeed. "I'll wait until the folks at Time Warner get their Orlando act together-if I live that long," he said.

Burnett's friendly skies: United Airlines flight 670 from San Diego to Chicago and New York on Oct. 18 was a veritable who's who of Leo Burnett USA VIPs. The host: United VP-Advertising John Ruhaak, who welcomed his fellow Burnett clients Dick Helstein and Barb Ford, VPs at Kraft General Foods.

Also aboard were longtime Burnett consultant and Northwestern University marketing professor Don Schultz-and his wife, Heidi, the publisher of Chicago magazine-and Burnett VP Rishad Tobaccowala.

In his speech that day to the ANA meeting, Mr. Tobaccowala predicted an interactive marketing revolution, warning the attendees that "in a revolution, kings and queens lose their heads-so you must think like a peasant." True to form, he flew coach. As did the press.

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