AAAA Crowd Atwitter Over Berger Rebuke

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - Next year, the "desert air" won't be blamed. After a conference destined to be remembered for a blunt speech by Euro RSCG CEO Ron Berger that took on industry leaders, the networks and the trade press, the American Association of Advertising Agencies' annual management conference will shift locales next year from Arizona to Florida.

The 2007 Management Conference for Agency CEOs will take place April 18-20 at the Ritz-Carlton in Naples, Fla.

Attendees at this year's version were still buzzing a day later about the address Thursday by Berger, the outgoing AAAAs chairman. Berger took on WPP CEO Martin Sorrell's management, public statements by Publicis Groupe's Jack Klues and the ANA's Bob Liodice, "arrogant" television networks, and the trade press in his speech.

The New York Times, whose coverage of the speech Berger praised today, suggested the "the desert air" might have "sparked the make unusually assertive and provocative  even pugnacious  remarks" about the ad business.

New AAAAs chairman, Campbell-Ewald CEO Anthony Hopp, was not as outspoken as Berger, but still roused the audience with his calls to embrace clients' desire for greater agency accountability.

The 88th annual conference, which wrapped today, had some 400 attendees (up from an estimated 320 last year).

Besides Berger's wake-up call to the industry, the conference will also be remembered for taking place so soon after the death of DDB President-CEO Ken Kaess after a battle with cancer. Kaess, a former AAAA chairman, was still listed in the program as a AAAA director-at-large.

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