It would've been even more interesting in the control room or eavesdropping on frantic phone calls between CBS and MTV executives. But if as a sponsor you wangled seats on the 50-yard line for Super Bowl XXXVIII, you had a close-up view of the Janet Jackson halftime malfunction that sent the FCC into a tizzy.
2. 4A's media conference
In particular for Jim Stengel's speech Feb. 12, when the top marketing executive at the world's top media spender declared that the industry's TV-centric business model was in desperate need of repair. "Today's marketing world is broken," the P&Ger said. "There must be-and is-life beyond the 30-second spot."
3. Manhattan federal court
On March 5, in U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum's courtroom, when domestic diva Martha Stewart was convicted of obstruction of justice and other charges related to her infamous stock sale. Martha later made an impassioned plea from the courthouse steps-for advertisers!
4. Adwatch:Outlook 2004
Yes, it's an Ad Age conference. But you really should have been in the audience when Larry Light of McDonald's delivered a controversial call to arms that set the industry abuzz. When the head of marketing for a company whose target customers are people who eat declares mass marketing dead, it's time to put on the long black veil.
5. Palais Bulles
More than 1,000 people, including a sizable contingent from Procter & Gamble, packed the courtyards and labyrinth hallways of Pierre Cardin's curvaceous villa in the South of France for a Publicis party during the Cannes ad festival. The place to be if you were still there at 3 a.m. was in the pool, clothing optional.
6. The Four Seasons
Newsweek's GOP convention party Aug. 19, hosted by Lally Weymouth, was held in the pool room of New York's swankiest corporate cafeteria. It was by far the best party in a week packed with, um, conservative fetes, and drew more than its fair share of media and agency bigwigs, from Leslie Moonves to Shelly Lazarus.
7. On the phone
With your broker Aug. 19, the day Google went public after a controversial Dutch auction, and its shares surged 18% over the offering price. Besides making Google's co-founders filthy rich, the IPO cemented the dot-com's status as one of the leading online brands in a year when the medium, and search in particular, returned to prominence.
8. Gracie Mansion
New York's billionaire mayor never moved into his official residence, but he did show up Sept. 20 for the opening-night party for Advertising Week in New York City. As did hundreds of the industry's bold-face names. You couldn't go two steps in the huge tent on the back lawn without tripping over a CEO or CMO.
If you have to ask why, you don't belong in the game. This was the year many marketers discovered that China was a big country with many people who buy lots of stuff, which adds up to opportunity. Close down the satellite office in Hong Kong; Shanghai is the place to base the Asian operation.
10. Carlyle Hotel, New York
It's Martin Sorrell's home away from home in New York, and lobby restaurant Dumonet his favorite breakfast spot (his table is the first on the left of the entrance). Sorrell has an appetite for acquisitions, an eye for talent, charm with clients and mastery of media. No matter what part of the business you're in, a breakfast invite from him counts as an accomplishment.