Version 2.0 of Advertising Week proved that bigger is not better: Too many events and venues, no locus and no focus. Quality was spotty; some highs, many lows. If only TiVo had invented a technology to zip past the bad.
Organizers deserve credit for improvements they made. The program, closely aligned last year with the American Association of Advertising Agencies, won backing this year from trade groups across marketing and media. The program appeared less advertising-centric, with some attention paid to disciplines such as direct marketing. Organizers did a better job seeking out provocateurs and inspiration beyond Mad. Ave.
Some panels and presentations sparked stimulating debate. Among the best: Carat's David Verklin, who captivated his audience with an impassioned, optimistic view of the future of advertising. But many events suffered from limited attendance as overlapping events vied for attention. Too many events were uninspired; Advertising Week should not stand for mediocrity.
The goofy parade of icons turned farcical this year when the NYPD refused entry to Budweiser's Clydesdales. Take a hint: The parade starts the week off on the wrong foot. As we said a year ago, the week shouldn't be built on yesterday's advertising icons; it must be about tomorrow's marketing solutions.
We'll repeat another point from last year: Organizers need to decide the week's reason for being and then execute the mission with the same discipline that marketing professionals execute smart marketing plans.
Advertising by committee doesn't work; maybe Advertising Week by committee doesn't, either. How appropriate, then, that organizers held their VIP party at the United Nations, famous for large gatherings with no clear agenda, much talk and no action.
It's worth staging version 3.0-but only as a focused, edited event. Note to Ken Kaess, Advertising Week co-chair and president of DDB: Think small.