The Next Frontier: Endorsement Marketing in the Digital Age, The Hill, New York
August 13, 2009
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Oh, Murray Hill, you do not disappoint. Ordinarily I avoid Murray Hill because last time I was passing through I got burnt on my algebra teacher arm (you know, the tick-tock skin part) by a cigarette-wielding, slurring, fratboy wannabe. Why wannabe? Because he was at least 45, wearing a rugby shirt, and his cap was on backwards. If not 45, then a rough-looking 30. However, when I got the invitation to attend "The Next Frontier: Endorsement Marketing in the Digital Age" sponsored by Brand Affinity Technologies (BAT), Microsoft Advertising, Fox Sports and Centro, my excitement to actually walk to an event won over my fear of a male-saturated, Jerry Maguire-suited huddle.
I have to offer you a disclaimer because I believe in SocialVibe's Joe Marchese's dad, who said "if you always tell the truth you won't have to worry about remembering what you told people." I am not a sports girl. I was the official pine rider in 8th grade basketball. When I did play, I actually got punched in the face and wiffed on the resulting foul shots. I still scream when a baseball is anywhere near my head, and when I catch a football I tend to kick out with one leg spastically while I extend my arms. I haven't tried hockey yet, but I imagine it would be like watching a giraffe hump a hammer. I'm not into sports. I go to Yankees games for the beer and hotdogs. Obviously, I was ready to feel like a Montauk monster out of water in a sports-loving crowd. Not so, my friends! From the minute I checked in with the list lady, to the first handshakes with Allie Savarino Kline, VP of Marketing; Elliot Bell, GM, Agency and Advertiser Relations; and John deTar, VP, Sales, I was at ease.
The first thing I saw at the bar was a purple suit. Purple isn't the right word -- more like creamy muted eggplant. Sporting the suit with confidence was NBA legend Walt Frazier, whose very presence requests a Barry White soundtrack. Shavon (I'm sorry if I spelled your name wrong!), the most awesome waitress at The Hill, instantly snagged my drink order as I walked directly into the light of videographer Larry "Love" Akiya of Beluga Media. Beluga make me think of "Full House"and that episode where they sing "Baby Baluuuuuga" over and over, but I digress. His logo is adorable.
While snapping pics of the Fox Sports posse and watching Bruschetta buttonhook past me (it's too hard to eat roly-poly food in public), I found myself on the receiving end of the scariest question ever: "Who do you think weighs the most?" I know, right? And no, gender judgers, this wasn't a question from a woman about other women or from a man snarking about other women. Nope, it came from the dudes. What was my answer? "The tallest guy, he has the most bones." That's fair, right?
I was alleyooped another dangerous question when I sidled over to the hottest table in the room -- because of its proximity to the humid outdoors -- manned by Sean Kirwin, Director of Research at InsightExpress; Harmen "don't call me Harem" Westra, Senior Director Sales, US East Coast and Europe of InsightExpress; and Sam "please don't compare me to Jerry Maguire" Porter, agent at SportsStars Inc. I forgot I was supposed to be doing my job for a moment because I was laughing so hard with them, engaging in the age-old "Oh really, nothing offends you? What about..." game. And the dangerous question these guys pitched at me? "How old do you think I am?"
Parallel to the humid table, Peter Schrager of FOX Sports was keeping the seats warm with NY Giants football guy Carl Banks, who I gushed to about the small hot dogs, which should not be confused with cocktail wieners, no -- they were small hot dogs lounging on soft and delicious potato roll-lets under a soothing blanket of sauerkraut. Make note, party planners ; that is the ideal food. Well, sort of.
Banks informed me that he was avoiding the hot dogs during the socializing part of the evening so as not to share the aftereffects with the crowd. We also decided that the ideal food would be a tiny hot dog wrapped in pizza, deep-fried, and then wrapped in lettuce to make it healthy. Later on I discovered that my love for tiny foods is quite memorable , as Carl Banks introduced me to someone and followed up with "she loves hot dogs and pizza." Touchdown!
A bunch of other people I flea flickered between were Paul McCarthy, Brand Affinity Technologies, (BAT), Chris Duhon of the New York Knicks, Ilana Nunn from BDA Sports, Peter Schrager, FOX Sports, Victor Aviles from Puma, Kendall Johnson of Morgan Stanley, Adrian Gill from Puma, Chris Tobias from Puma, and Chad Smoak from Foot Locker.
Towards the end of the night Walt Frazier and Carl Banks gave some Knicks and Giants predictions and signed jerseys, and balls were raffled off to either very excited or buzzed winners. Throughout the party the atmosphere was warm and friendly. I'd say the first and only party I made it to this week was... wait for it... a slam dunk. And guess what? The male to female ratio ended up being pretty even, so they sure showed me.
On my way out, the king of Murray Hill arrived - a young, tribal-band-tattoo-etched fellow in his basketball jersey toting a tiny gym bag. I'm just sayin'.
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