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The International Advertising Association did itself proud at its 34th World Congress in Cancun earlier this month.

It attracted a record 2,200 participants, several hundred more than ever before; it opened the Congress with a ringing endorsement of advertising from the host country's President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and it welcomed a new generation of advertising professionals by holding concurrently the first International Youth Congress.

Much of the credit goes to the IAA Mexican chapter and its president, Luis Carlos Mendiola, who traveled the world for five years encouraging ad industry practitioners to attend.

Those that did came away with a positive feeling that this organization is doing something about pulling the ad industry out of its worldwide funk.

After the last congress two years ago in Barcelona, this publication issued a much needed challenge to the IAA to get its act together to maintain its focus as industry leader, motivator, educator. Participants at the Barcelona event wondered whether an organization that couldn't avoid equipment breakdowns and other embarrassing organizational mix-ups could step up and properly represent the ad industry on the world stage.

But the Cancun meeting ran like a well-oiled machine, leaving the delegates to focus on the business of the ad business.

There's also been progress made on the business of advertising the role of the ad business. More than $90 million in ad space and time has been donated to the IAA's Campaign for Advertising, fighting threats to free commercial speech, and that number is expected to reach $200 million by yearend.

IAA has more than met the challenge.

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