2009 Advertising Hall of Achievement, Cipriani 42nd Street, New York
November 17, 2009
Today I was ready on time. So on time, I was (thank you Yoda self), I took a moment to check my email and make sure I was heading to the right place. What my search revealed was that while I had added the Advertising Hall of Achievement Awards Luncheon to my Google calendar, I had not taken that very important step to RSVP to the host of the event. Yes, I did hoot "IDIOT!" as I gaped at my computer. No worries, I thought, I'll just tell them I don't need to eat, I can just hang on the periphery and cover the event. No matter what, it's just not a position I like to be in, that whole "I'm forgetful, please let me in, I'm here to cover your event, yarg" deal. Lucky for me, as I stepped through the revolving door, (greeted 3 times before I even hit the check-in table, mind you), under the gawdy goldenrod curtains of Cipriani 42nd street, I spotted smiling faces, and when I said I was here to cover the show for MediaPost, boink, I got my table, and the surreality began.
I think these luncheons try to trick you into thinking it's happy hour with their deep yellow darkness and velvety red highlights, with gargoyle-like nymphs surveying the guests made smaller by fat marble columns. The inside of Cipriani resembles an old bank, with copper-warbled windows lit by amber signs singing "Teller" and "Banking By Mail Saves Time." Through those old-timey windows I observed guests sipping (some guzzling) Bellinis while balancing various mobile devices in hand. Twittering? Checking the old work email? I eaves-screened a few and saw Facebook pages, users scrolling through photos. I nabbed Alison Arden, inductee, VP/Publisher at Advertising Age & Creativity, marathoner, and mom as well as a gaggle from Microsoft and Starcom MediaVest.
At my table I met Rachel Friedman, new Marketing Communications title-holder at Tremor Media. Her business cards are so fresh, they're not even off the press yet. She was with Ryan van Fleet, Market Research Manager, and Montana Triplett, Director of Marketing, both at Tremor. They invited me to what sounds like an amazing event for Autism Speaks tonight (drinks at Whiskey Tavern followed by a concert at Carnegie Hall, be still my heart), but alas, I have two events that completely butt heads with the Tremor event. Next time, Gadget, next tiiiime.
While Montana and I tried to remember napkin etiquette, I slurped in some the beet salad. Beets, goat cheese, and green beans. I say hold the green beans. I got up just as they placed a warm buttery croissant on my bread plate, because the ceremony was beginning. I'm amazed by few things in this life. Web hits, readership, fame game profile status, "tumblarity" (really?), Twitter followers, come on, those are not life's big milestones. What amazes me are these people who run businesses and also have time for marathons and matrimony, leading efforts to build schools in Namibia like inductee Tara Comonte, CFO (oh yes, a finance type)/COO at Worldwide Mediabrands, leading pro bono efforts for AIDS awareness, Anti-Crime campaigns, and TONS more like inductee Brian McGuinness, and creating something so freaking simply enjoyable (how many people kicked themselves?) like Elf Yourself, and well, the list goes on...
I don't want to sound like a... what's the horrid word, right, sycophant... but something is wrong with you if you don't hear the list of these peoples' accomplishments and wonder where the flip they find the time to breath. The only reason I'm not that accomplished is because, uh... I choose not to be. Truthfully, I blame TV and wine. Moving on.
Tara Comonte impressed me. While she declared herself a pushover (even though she supplied quotey fingers when thanking her "friends" for the "Devil Wears Prada"-inspired video tribute to her), she strikes me as a total badass. Straight-shooting, probably knocks people for a loop when she forgoes the sugar-coating. She, as the first CFO inducted into the Hall of Achievement, praised the procurement process with "there is nothing wrong with the accountability that a procurement function provides." Sexy.
Inductee Peter McGuinness, Chairman & CEO of Gotham. Inc, echoed a sentiment that the Advertising industry has had a hard time swallowing: "Diversity will be more paramount that it has ever been." (You know, in those best days ahead that everyone in advertising and media keeps talking about). Hey Peter, give Julius Dunn II, leader of the now dead Adversity arm of One Club a call. If you want someone spearheading a diversity situation, he's got the passion and the drive.
Ari Merkin, inductee and Founding Partner/ CCO at Toy New York (by the way, the idea being that GOOD creative and advertising should be embraced with the same fervor as a kid grasps at a brand new toy), had the most electric video montage. From the Truth body bags to the IKEA lamp in the rain, to the mini cooper, to Starbucks Glen! GlenGlenGlen! Campaign, the audience was enraptured -- and Ari fell at the tail end of the ceremony.
You can find these folks' entire life stories by using the search engine of your choice, because I've got to wrap this up. Advertising events are always fun -- maybe because the risotto croquette and the flakey white fishthing with some sort of citrus/pineapple glaze were so delicious, or maybe because when advertising is clever and really good, it's even better than TV itself. And I really like TV.
Also... when I returned to my seat, Brad or Brian from Comcast had eaten my butter croissant. I'll let it go this time.
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