ANDY Speaks - An Evening With BBH New York, USA Today Offices, New York
May 15, 2009
I get all kinds of invitations. Sometimes, they're so awesome I wish I could go to all events, but that's just not realistic. Since I had already RSVP'd yes to the Ad Club's invitation to ANDY Speaks, a program getting ANDY winners in front of an intimate (we're talking REALLY intimate) audience to talk about their inspirations and processes, I couldn't make the Daytime Emmy Awards Nomination Party at the Hearst Tower. The ANDY awards were pretty fun, so even though I was told "this isn't a big party" but guaranteed advertype schmoozing, I figured I wouldn't regret being such a stickler for honoring my RSVPs.
I love when my ears pop in the elevator on the way to an event. I'm serious. I still have so many places to investigate in this effervescent city that when my ears pop I know I'm going to get some great views. I emerged from the elevator to almost total silence. The central air system was humming like a plane engine. That sound is like adult nursery white noise. Insta-nap. I grabbed my nametag from the handful still sitting on the table and looked around for the mingling adver-types. There were about four when I arrived and they were the panelists. I glanced around perplexed. This was not a room for 50 people. I soon learned that they were expecting closer to 25. This small number scared me not for social reasons, but because my stomach had already gurgled loudly in the subway and now there would be even LESS noise to cover whatever monkey rave was on the loose in there.
Food -- that will help quiet the gnawing beavers in my belly. I spun around frantically as two more guests trickled in and saw two ad club reps emerging from a secret location with trays. One had cheese cubes, brie, blue cheese, and crackers. The other had cookies and what looked to be chocolate hedgehog torsos. I'm sure those were delicious cookies as well. I ate a good 20 cheese cubes before settling into my chair behind the 20 or less guests (not counting Ad Club people) arranged at the conference table. The panel settled in and after being dryly introduced by the moderator, they began talking about BBH New York's campaign "Oasis Dig Out Your Soul - In The Streets" -- a campaign that hunted and gathered street performing talent to perform songs from Oasis' newest release before they released the actual album.
I have never moderated a panel, so I know some day, when I finally moderate anything, this will come back to bite me in the butt, but given the fact that there were no mics and speakers, the air system was so mesmerizing, and the conference room was drab, an energetic moderator was a necessity. Anne-Christine Diaz, Managing Editor, Creativity Magazine delivered what sounded like a Microsoft template of questions like "If you could change anything about the campaign [process] what would it be?" and "On a scale of 1-10 how much risk did you take and what did it teach you about risk?" These people worked with rock stars! There's a mystery there that people want to uncover. And not just rock stars, but the volatile Gallaghers, infamous for drunken brotherly brawls and cheeky bastardry.
I won't call her out by name because she hates being named, but the best questions came from an Ad Club associate who asked about New York subway culture, New York street culture, and NYC's affinity for music versus the London street culture and music scene. Why not do this campaign in London? Kevin Roddy, Chief Creative Officer of BBH New York, raised Senior Producer, BBH, Julian Katz' eyebrows with his response of "I don't think BBH London could have pulled it off" citing that the cultures are so different. My Englandland pals -- what do you think?
The production and pushing to get this campaign accepted and executed was inspiring, but even more inspiring, at least to people with bloody-knuckled, hunger-pang-trumpeting dreams of musical success, is that when it came to finding the bands, "we literally had agency people go to Union Square and go on the subways to find the bands," explained Katz. In fact, small world, they saw one of the bands on the 6 before the panel.
OH! And for all of you people who love measurements and think that a positive feeling about a brand isn't good enough, the moderator did ask the age old "with an integrated campaign, how did you measure success?" question. Brad Gelfond, SVP, Content and Brand Partnerships, Warner Brother Records, who had been realistically snarky about the "changes" to music sales, danced around the answer -- trying to give a hardcore number, but in the end he said that online mentions were high, (and traffic to partner site, NYCGo were also up), and that he felt that Oasis the brand got "refreshed." You should know that Jane Reiss, EVP, CMO at NYC & Company, is a woman after my own heart. She is faced with the challenge to market New York the city on a budget that is 1/8th of the budget of cities like Las Vegas (and we don't even have as many hookers!). "When you have that budget, there is no comfort zone... you have to go beyond," was Jane's response to any perceived risk in pursuing the partnership with this campaign. Jane's love for the palpable energy of this city is honest and believable and I dig that. I was shocked at the $4 million budget they have to work with to promote this place.
When I left, I couldn't help but wonder how the Daytime Emmy party was. Did Oscar the Grouch overindulge, leap out of his can, and flash his naughty bits? I hope so.
If you're interested in attending events hosted by The Advertising Club, you can find them listed here.
Oh hey and as an aside, I was speaking to attendee Luke Luckett (from the IAB) and he said they've got a little partnership going with Gawker - which means they'll be having some member events on the Gawker roof deck. Perfect for those of you weirdos who want to nose around where you shouldn't.