N.Y. ad fest takes shape

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advertising week, the industry's ambitious attempt to generate some positive buzz around the ad business, is finally gaining some traction.

The $2 million New York-based event will be supported by some 12 companies, including Advertising Age. Among the sponsors are Yahoo!, Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN, the Audit Bureau of Circulations and Ernst & Young, as well as TV stations, major media outlets and auto firms. Advertising Week is also in advanced negotiations with Kellogg Co., Volkswagen, Time Inc.'s People and Fortune, Primedia, Viacom's Nick at Night/TV Land and Comcast.

Kicking off Sept. 20, Advertising Week will mix a range of advertising industry conferences with more consumer-friendly festivities. The week will begin with an advertising icon, such as Tony the Tiger, ringing the opening bell at one of the New York stock markets, followed by a procession of ad icons, including Keebler elves, from Times Square to Madison Avenue where an inaugural walk of fame will be dedicated on 50th Street.

best icons

Two Advertising Week sponsors, Yahoo! and Gannett's USA Today, will help promote a poll to determine advertising's best icons and slogans from 26 nominations with the help of the American public. Reuters is giving over its rotating video billboard in Times Square to promote the dedication ceremony. The voting will begin in June.

Grand Central Terminal's Vanderbilt Hall will be the venue for four advertising-related exhibitions, including retrospectives of the " I Love New York" promotions, the work on Partnership for Drug Free America, the Ad Council's campaigns and Broadway advertising.

As part of negotiations with the city, Advertising Week Executive Director Matthew Scheckner has opened a dialogue with economic development officials about the advertising industry receiving the kind of tax and real estate breaks afforded to other industries. "We are always talking about Wall Street and the media. Advertising is the poor step child. ... The city wants to keep jobs here ... there may be economic development assistance we can explore."

The Advertising Week office also plans to tie-in with a slew of ad-related news events around the festival. The American Association of Advertising Agencies will present its economic impact study at City Hall in September. Yahoo! also plans to release the results of its first Internet deprivation study, where consumers are asked to do without Web access and report on the experience.

The highlight of the week will be an awards night, held in the ocean room of the American Museum of Natural History. National Academy of TV Arts & Sciences will preside over the judging of an all-encompassing award dubbed the "Oscars of Advertising." The event will be open to all disciplines; TV, print, Internet, radio and outdoor.

It won't all be business, however. The festival will kick-off with a reception at Gracie Mansion. Other events include a concert in Central Park, a battle of the ad-bands at Irving Plaza, an ESPN celebration of its 25th anniversary and a joint Billboard magazine and record label Vector showcase of new artists at nightclub B.B. King's.

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