Advertising Week (Sept 27th – Oct 1st)
It’s that time of year when 60,000 Mad Men and Mad Women gather in New York City for Advertising Week. In its seventh year, the events, speakers, and parties have been top notch. Sponsorship and product placement abound, I had the opportunity to attend several panels and events throughout the week.
Special thanks to the public relations firm Sunshine, Sachs & Associates for all of their assistance and coordination throughout the week.
Billboard presents: Under the Hood of “Unstaged” (9/27)
This was a panel discussion led by Bill Werde who is the Editorial Director of Billboard Magazine. John Legend, ?uestlove of The Roots, and Spike Lee were in attendance. American Express has sponsored a new concert series called Unstaged where concerts are live-streamed and directed by notable directors who bring their cinematic skills to the equation.
John Legend & The Roots participated in the most recent Unstaged performance (directed by Spike Lee) on September 23rd and they had an candid discussion about the direction of the music industry, their new Album Wake Up!, and why Unstaged offers a unique perspective to experience a concert. For those that don’t know, Wake Up! features eleven evocative songs (pulled from the soulful music of the 60’s and 70’s) touching on subjects like political empowerment and civil rights. John Legend mentioned how refreshing it was to make an album that was all about the music and said that it was refreshing to not have to ask the question “am I singing too soulfully for mainstream radio?” When asked about popular radio music today ?uestlove added that “if you try to enlighten (the public), you are basically just turning them off.”
Advertising Week Opening Gala (9/27)
The world of advertising is no stranger to the open bar. As expected, the Opening Gala was nothing short of spectacular. The party was held at the Minskoff Theatre which has amazing views overlooking Times Square. Further, there were plenty of interesting specialty drinks like the Red Devil with a glowing ice cube.
Billboard Amp’d Up! (9/27)
Following the Opening Gala, the Ad crowd loosened their ties and let down their hair for an amazing night of music, and of course more open bar. The Harlem Gospel Choir got the night started by getting the crowd to stomp their feet and feel the love. Bruno Mars was the next to perform and he gave an inspiring performance of his hits like “Just the Way You Are,” “Billionaire,” and “Somewhere in Brooklyn.”
The headlining act was (of course) John Legend & The Roots. One highlight of their performance was an epic guitar solo by Kirk Douglas of The Roots. Susan Sarandon was in attendance and it was rumored that Jay Z and Spike Lee were there as well.
After the show, I caught up with Kirk Douglas to compliment him on his amazing performance. We spoke briefly and I can honestly say that he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. One overzealous fan interrupted our conversation yelling out “my uterus has your name on it” and “I want to have your babies.” If I had a nickel for every time someone yelled that out to me, I wouldn’t have any nickels.
Times Talks: Oliver Stone interviewed by New York Times columnist David Carr (9/29)
Oliver Stone is a man who has an opinion. That is exactly why this interview was such a treat. He spoke about Wall Street 2, his view of George W, and touched on where the U.S. economy is heading. One audience member asked if he felt any sense of responsibility for making greed “sexy” in the original Wall Street movie (1987) with statements like “Greed is good. Greed is right. Green works.” Oliver Stone responded by saying that he did not feel any sense of responsibility because Gordon Gekko goes to jail at the end of the movie.
When discussing the de-regulation of the banks he remarked how Reagan repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, Clinton went along with it, and George Bush Jr. had no interest in actually running the country. Never a dull moment with Olly.
AT&T Connects – Networking Event (9/30)
AT&T and the Advertising Club hosted a nightly networking event all week long. I attended the Thursday night party at the Aspen Social Club in midtown Manhattan. The event was a fabulous opportunity for Ad Week attendees to share stories and get to know each other. What better way to get to know your colleagues than with a beer in hand? For the many thousands of attendees who flew in just for Advertising Week, this was a great way for them to make connections. Who knows, maybe even a few love connections.