Recruiting down at AAF conference

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Defying the declining advertising economy, attendance was up at the American Advertising Federation's annual conference in Cleveland last week. However, recruitment appeared to be down at the event, which gives recruiters a crack at top advertising students.

AAF President-CEO Wally Snyder said attendance of more than 800 was a record for the conference, which had attracted more than 700 to Las Vegas last year. He cited a variety of factors, including a broad appeal to agencies, media, clients, students and academics, an agenda heavy on business-oriented how-to sessions and its Cleveland location, which he said gave the conference more of a business orientation than more traditional tourist areas.

But Mr. Snyder acknowledged, "We may be hurting a little in recruiting this year," at the conference, though he said recruitment activity at regional events remains strong.

Cordiant Communications Group's Bates Worldwide, New York; Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell-Ewald, Warren, Mich.; Publicis Groupe's Saatchi & Saatchi, Torrance, Calif. and Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, Los Angeles were among agencies recruiting. Kellogg Co. and Sherwin-Williams were the sole client-side recruiters.

For University of Wisconsin students who won the World Series of Advertising competition, the fruits of victory were hopes for improved chances of getting jobs.

"Hiring freezes have been our experience," said Heidi Hackemer, the recent Wisconsin advertising graduate who headed the team. She's been shopping her portfolio at New York agencies since graduating last month, to no avail so far.

But the $75 million "Revolutions Per Minute" corporate branding ad, promotion and public relations campaign for DaimlerChrysler was apparently as mythical as the Fountainhead Advertising student agency that pitched it. Asked if she expected DaimlerChrysler to use any of the work, Ms. Hackemer said: "They don't have any money."

Chrysler isn't alone. David Peeler, president-CEO of Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR, said that in July the researcher will likely revise its 2001 projection for overall 2001 media spending growth, down from a 3.8% projection made in December.

Charles Hudson, director of corporate and diversity communications at DaimlerChrysler and a judge for the competition, said the company has no current plans for a corporate campaign. "It's been looked at since day one [of the merger] and at this point there's nothing even close to one."

He said the contest sponsorship was an educational exercise that was made to be as real as possible. "There were some recruiters there and hopefully this will give some of these kids a chance of getting a job in the current economic environment," Mr. Hudson said.

CMR noted a 5.2% decline in first-quarter media spending, although it wasn't universal. Spending on Sunday magazines and outdoor advertising rose 4% and 5%, respectively. TV fell 4% overall; syndication was up 5% and cable spending was up 7%, though those didn't offset a 22% decline in network TV or 15% decline in spot. Among industries, spending for prescription and non-prescription drugs was up 3%.

Ethnic media, however, is also feeling short-shrifted by the drug companies. Members of a panel on multicultural marketing cited pharmaceuticals as the industry least involved in their area.

Lisa Quiroz, publisher of People en Espanol, called the pharmaceutical industry's lack of presence in Hispanic marketing "astounding, particularly given the opportunity for them to come in with really strong health care messages."

Scott Mills, exec-VP and chief operating officer of, noted that the primary sponsor of a health channel on his site isn't a drug company-it's the Equal sugar substitute brand, which has a program targeted toward diabetics.

Procter & Gamble Co. and Ford Motor Co. have been among the strongest multicultural marketers, said Ms. Quiroz.

Mr. Mills mentioned Ford and Southwest Airlines as the best multicultural marketers, with the latter having the highest market share with African-American consumers and reflecting that in its marketing, he said.

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