Media X: The Week of Shilling Dangerously

It was a lazy day, and I thought of sneaking down to the Polaroid House in Malibu to snicker at skeletal starlets dipping tiny toes in the blue Pacific. But I dozed off on the patio, lost in an advertising reverie.

I haven't been to many conferences since I escaped from Stalag Adweek two years ago, and I miss those endearing stupid fests. I pine for the upfront bacchanal, even the headaches caused by after-party debauchery and Jerry Zucker presentations.

And I loves my 4As Media Conference, where not much happens of consequence, but there are plenty o' opportunities to get hammered with sources. Like that time in Orlando when Initiative's Mike Tunnicliffe spent three hours describing to me in salacious detail what it was like to pub crawl with Universal McCann's Robin Kent.

My reverie wasn't all good, though.

Cannes popped into my head, and you know what I think media executives should do with the International Ad Festival--pretend you're taking it to lunch at Eden Roc and halfway across the bay, smash its skull with a Media Lion and throw the body overboard. Then take the next flight to Venice -- and get to work making the Media Festival the glittering symbol of media power it ought to be.



Finally, my mind wandered to Advertising Week, which will be here all week, folks. I took out my laptop and started surfing.

Ad Age and Adweek had roundups, and I wanted more meat. I surfed a little more and got excited when I found what looked like a gaggle of online reports on this industry, ahem, "showcase." But the stories weren't about advertising at all. They were about a gang of baboons on a crime spree in South Africa.

An understandable mistake.

Stuart Elliott at The New York Times talked about those damn ad icons--again. If anything in advertising deserves a mercy killing, it's these things. OK, they canceled the parade. But they had a panel where the Maytag repairman spoke about his dedication to his job. I'd have preferred the parade.

Still, this fond pageant is growing on me. My buddies who went to the opening night party at Wollman Rink didn't see a lot of mainstream agency types, but plenty of media agency leaders. Plus, notes one, "They didn't run out of alcohol like they did last year."

How can you not love a mainstream industry gala that features David Verklin and Carla Hendra going mano-a-mujer over how to run an agency? Or a joint seminar with the Venice Media Festival on creative media thinking? A New York Times "CEO summit" with six top media agency leaders?

If that kind of insight was represented in the south of France every year, there'd be no need for either a media agency boycott or high-seas homicide.

Well, they're French, so they probably deserve it anyway.

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