Advertising 2.0 Conference, The IAC Building, New York
June 10, 2009
On my walk from 26th and Broadway to 18th Street and the West Side Highway, I absorbed that which is by far one of the strangest foot courses in this city. I found myself wondering when prostitution was legalized in this town and why men feel it's acceptable to walk out of their "big and tall" store with the express goal of harassing walkers-by. As I approached the milky stacked shaft that is the IAC building, I saw tiny little heads bobbing all over the recently opened High Line and I thought "I want to go to there." But I went inside anyway.
The Daily Beast's Tina Brown strikes me as a badass. I like the way she gazes strongly into the eyes of the moderator, neither nodding in warm encouragement nor showing any disdain for even the most vapid questions; she simply waits for the moderator to finish and then answers frankly without any sensitive disclaiming heehaw. Which is why I wish she'd been on the panel covering "Contextual Media & Advertising: Transforming and Redefining the Relationship Between the Consumer, Advertising, and Media Platforms" -- a panel that got heckled by a maniacally cackling man (that's a stretch, as his behavior was hardly that of a grown man) in the front row. Not that Caroline Marks, GM, The Daily Beast didn't handle it well. I'm just saying, I could see Tina Brown, Founder, The Daily Beast, calmly getting out of her chair and gently backhanding the offender. Here's what happened:
Doug Scott, President of OgilvyEntertainment and the moderator: "Blah blah blah lengthy intro to a short question blah blah."
"Geeeeeegle geegle giggle chortle chortle" *handclapping and some moderate snorting* "Come on! Be respectable!" -- this from the man who later identified himself as Paul Mooney from Intune. Giggling and perplexing chortling continued. I closely watched Doug Scott's face and yes, he was as confused as I. I had no idea yet who The Giggler was attacking with his claps and snorts. Then he cleared it up: "I just read *garbled* [the Daily Beast] and it's crap! ...call it what it is!! ... I mean, all of you up there... At least act respectable!" This followed by a crescendo of more maniacal giggling. Caroline Marks' face was priceless, seeming to ask the audience "Can someone stop this guy?" while she uttered that she's very proud of the work that the Daily Beast does. I'd like to point out now that I am not saying yea or nay to the Daily Beast. What I am saying is this guy behaved like a human LiveJournal comment. It was a disrespectful interruption of the panel, members of which took time out of their days to share their experiences. While comedic, it was an interruption (and frankly jarring -- for a moment I was uneasy about what the Giggler could be capable of) in the day that people paid money for.
Anyway. I couldn't really hear the rest of the panel clearly (after the Giggler exited himself) and was prepared not to hear the next panel, a keynote roundtable of Tina Brown, Tina Sharkey, Chairman and Global President, Babycenter.com, and John Harris, co-founder, The Politico. The roundtable was moderated by Sarah Ellison, Media Reporter for The Wall Street Journal. The sound in the West Lobby of the IAC was atrocious. Everyone's voice hit my eardrums like I was listening through a potato. When this happens I genuinely worry about my hearing, but I eavesdropped on a twosome behind me and they were griping about the sound as well. It's such a large room that I think the bouncing sound waves just canceled themselves out. What I did hear was the following:
Tina Sharkey, who has never been a journalist, described Babycenter.com as a "service journalism outlet." She also spoke in measured value statements.
Tina Brown described The Daily Beast as an upscale site, therefore the type of advertising reflects this as well. In terms of creative working alongside marketing and strategy, Brown mootly explained that they're trying to do more integrated advertising - using advertising modules that "look good" in the places they're designed to go. Well that's not earth-shattering. She went to give an example, but I couldn't hear.
Red-cheeked like a 10-year-old soccer kid, John Harris offered up two myths. One is "that advertising has to be strictly quantitative...I don't accept that."
Ellison asked what the panel can do now that they couldn't in print. I know, a fairly kindergarten question. Tina Brown said that The Beast has an incredible video editor and that's she's very excited about video. Regarding pop-ups and pop-ins and pop-outs? "Anything that interrupts you on your way to get somewhere...is the worst thing you can do."
A Pepsico rep was in the audience and when he asked his question, he gave a short commercial for the Internet Week site that Pepsico put together that took advantage of -- um, I mean leveraged -- the free writing talent of bloggers and wrapped it in a crispy candy Pepsi shell. He asked what the panel thought of advertisers starting their own magazines. Brown pooh-poohed this and the idea of marketers thinking they're journalists. I have my own opinions, but what do you think about, well, all of this? Please feel free to blather in the comments section below!
Oh, and hey -- while taking shots during the cocktail reception I met Sam Tarantino, Founder and CEO, and Alex Bryan VP of Business Development both with Grooveshark. We chuckled about the goody bag that had a very Snuggie-like blanket tucked inside.
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