How do we know this entirely plausible scenario was not the work of a scab writing product placements for striking writers of "America's Next Top Model," but rather the Advertising Club's "The Stars of Madison Avenue: The Business of Celebrities" luncheon for Advertising Week? Roker wasn't paid for the plug.
He was, in fact, introducing this year's honorees for memorable and successful advertising campaigns starring celebrities. And what event feting celebrity spokespeople would be complete without more celebrities? Gideon Yago of MTV, supermodel Stephanie Seymour, CBS Sports' James Brown, model Frederique, Sony BMG recording artist Amerie, Vanessa Trump (wife of Donald Jr.) and Finesse Mitchell of "Saturday Night Live" were all there live and in person to ad sparkle to the festivities. We did feel a little sorry for favorite icons Juan Valdez and the Geico Gecko, who were also present but were left out of a lot of photos.
The razzle-dazzle continued later that night at the AOL-sponsored opening gala at Bryant Park Grill. Marked by a moment of hysterics in remembrance of dearly departed (from AOL) Steve Case, the party was packed to the hilt-and the bartenders couldn't have been more miserable. Seems that four cases of white wine and four cases of red wine were not enough to slake the thirsts of the 800-odd attendees. Oh, and some of the beer didn't show up. Not to worry, though: There were eight cases of J&B to take care of the whiskey needs of the old-school marketers.
Of course, we won't really understand what old-school is all about until 2007, when AMC premieres its series about Madison Avenue execs in the 1960s, when the suits were skinny, the lunches were three-martini and the women were, well, secretaries. Arlene Manos, president of Rainbow National Network Advertising Sales, told us the series is called "Mad Men" and was created by "Sopranos" writer and supervising producer Matthew Weiner.
It wouldn't be Adages if we didn't make mention of the Fluid Battle of the Ad-Bands IV. Bereft of McKinney's all-star Pants, the competition saw eight other agencies step up to the stage to measure the size of their, uh, music departments. Was it any surprise, then, that first-timers the Bullets from JWTshowed up with a seven-person band replete with full-size bongo drums, a violin and a cowbell? We're sorry, but any band that gets the audience to sing the chorus in Spanish should win. (But it didn't. Grey Worldwide's Subliminals pulled out all the stops with six female vocalists and a 15-piece band with trombone and trumpet. Guess we know who's bigger now, don't we?)
While there we came shoulder-to-elbow (OK, she's a little tall) with a woman who introduced herself as Debbie Drake, as in Mrs. O. Burtch Drake, wife of the president-CEO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies, co-sponsor of Advertising Week. She was excited by the diversity of the young advertising crowd: "We've got everyone in advertising here, from the absolute square accountants to the wild and crazy creatives." She hoped they would flood the dance floor like they did last year, when she found herself up in front, ankle-deep in beer and rocking out like she was in college.
We at Adages have a slight allergy to preciousness, but we have to admit the highlight of the evening was a set by the Children of Agape, a group of orphaned South African singers who belted it out better than any of the ad-bands. We've got to wonder, though: If kids raising money for fellow children orphaned by AIDS in Africa can't get the ad industry to shut up, who can?
Ken Wheaton is finding himself at Machu Picchu. Help him find his way home at email@example.com