Stars Of Madison Avenue Luncheon, Best Buy Theatre, New York
September 27, 2010
It is a beautiful Monday out here in Advertising Week land! The 2010 version has launched with a weak "this is a poor excuse for rain" deluge intent on lasting the full day. I saw more wet tourists on my way to Best Buy Theatre than wet rats back stroking through the subway. But I don't have a care in the world because this year The Stars of Madison Avenue Luncheon delivered a roundhouse kick of pure New York into the eyes and ears of their guests.
Ah, the familiar glow of the blue backlit skinny escalator that leads one to the bowels of Nokia, er, Best Buy Theatre - that wireless signal free dungeon. It felt like a Lite Brite welcome mat, ushering me into another week of parties and the call of the breakfast vino. The call was strong, my friends, answered by the hearty adver-crew. Chardonnays were sipped, dark Draper-esque tumblers were swilled, and even the choketastic scent of morning beer wafted through the quickly multiplying crowd.
Milling about, I found Steve Sapka; Katie Kempner, MDC Partners; Craig Carney of Microsoft; Maureen Consavage and Marie Mason of USA Today; Brian Anderson of The Vidal Partnership; Jeff Benjamin of CP+B; Ron Fierman of Digital Pulp; Erika Nitz of Sanga Creative Services; Kristen Fergason of Yahoo!; Mollie Spillman of Yahoo!; Tommy Farkas of NY1; John Lang of Microsoft; John Pointkowski of Microsoft; Geoff Maresca of Microsoft; and Nimrod Nir of The Brief, a creative agency based in Israel. At my table I also met Roni Jenkins, Marketing director at The Three Tomatoes, "The Insider's Guide to NYC for Women Who Aren't Kids."
The award ceremony itself was fantastic. This year the AdClub struck at home, "honoring the brands that support The Great White Way," which is three-fourths the beating heart of NYC. You can't say New York without envisioning the blinking lights of Broadway.
Before the awards were delivered, Matt Scheckner, Executive Director of Advertising Week launched into the All Access Auction with a dreadlocked, cowboy at sporting dude named Crazy Legs Conti. No, I have absolutely no clue who that was, nor why Scheckner was electrified by the dude's presence. I hope someone else got the joke.
Either way, a hang out (I want to say it's an evening of karaoke) with the big wigs at CP+B went for $1500.00. Pedicures were also promised. The other prize on the docket was "Lunch With The Legends," a Four Seasons lunch with George Lois, Jerry Della Femina and Allen Rosenshine, which went for $1000.00. Those guys were adorable. If I had cash to blow away, I would have bet on them.
Onto the awards! To introduce honoree Playbill, Inc, Montego Glover of Memphis blew the grease off my face with her performance. Host Roma Torre declared, "Why she didn't win the TONY..." which inspired some audible cringing. Notable is the fact that across the pond you have to pay for programs, but when you see a show here, those 350 different adaptations across the country of each individual performance are FREE. Playbill Publisher Philip S. Birsh likened advertising to Broadway, saying, "Great advertising and great marketing is great theatre."
Bryan Batt, previously of Man Men fame (remember poor Sal, victim of a Lucky Strike pass and subsequent man scorned chopping block?), currently of Batt On A Hot Tin Roof introduced honoree Time Warner Cable/NY1 with a clip show of various Broadway acts and NY1's always local always on coverage of the carnival that is Broadway. "I am embarrassed to admit," Batt said when the clips ended, "I think in that clip of "CATS," I was the big grey one." Everyone laughed, but I think Batt was serious. Which is still funny. NY1's Thomas Farkas quickly accepted his award.
"Wicked"'s leading ladies Stephanie Torns and Laura Woyasa prickled my eyeballs with their rendition of "For Good," particularly the lyrics "Who can say I've changed for the better? I do believe I have been changed for the better... Because I knew you, I have been changed for good." I'll keep the sappy stuff to a minimum, but not a day goes by that I don't think about the amazing people I've met over the past few years just through writing this column. I told you, sappy.
The briefest yet moving honoree was Tommy Tune, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary on Broadway. He was introduced by a montage of performances and voices applauding the efforts of and supporting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an organization devoted to caring for and lessening the blow of HIV/AIDS within the entertainment community. Since 1988 they have raised more than $195 million and they continue to educate the public and promote awareness and understanding of HIV/AIDS. "I am taller and older than I ever intended to be," joked Tommy Tune, who then immediately chocked up and through a voice raw with emotion thanked everyone for their continued fight and support.
A wonderful job done by all involved; this was a great way to forget about the trench foot I was nursing, and a meaningful introduction to Advertising Week.
I can't help it. I have to say it. That chicken was weird.
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*edited at 5:27p.m. on 9/27 to include All Access Auction link, correct some names, and change lunch at the 21 club to the Four Seasons. Carry on.