Monday, May 09, 2005

American Association of Advertising Agencies meets. Accomplishes nothing.

The Four A's held their annual management conference last week. It was filled with the usual — faces flushed pink by one cocktail too many, hair plugs, and white men.

Naturally, the 4A's also made sure they held their conference in a location that would help them achieve a deeper understanding of the typical American consumer. You know, Bermuda.

(Not that one would expect anything different from a group led by a man called O. Burtch Drake. O. Burtch — now there's a name with street cred.)

I almost feel bad for Stuart Elliott trying to write a summary of this boondoggle that doesn't sound like a piece for Us magazine. Try as he does to make it sound as if something constructive was at least attempted, it's quite obvious all that went on was a lot of har-har-har and petty sniping.

So what were some of the important topics tackled by the leaders of the agencies who think the 4A's is still relevant? Let's see. There was the creation of a permanent museum for advertising — perfect for an industry so many business people consider a dinosaur. There were lots of, "Oh, my God's!" when many thought the CEO of Volvo North America had put the auto maker's account into review. (She had not. She was merely demonstrating how little respect she has for the business. She probably hadn't even met the head of her agency until he introduced her — advertising people are getting so small and irrelevant these days.) And then there was that hilarious Richard Jeni routine — how about that AOL gut buster?

Okay, maybe Andy Berlin had something interesting to say, but it wasn't anything we haven't heard before. It's also something that will never be implemented.

Jack Klues, the head of Starcom, does earn some points for bluntness for saying that it is time to stop worrying about who owns ideas. Basically, he thinks that agency people need to check their egos. Again, not really new and not bloody likely.

For the record, our firm has never been a member of the 4A's. And, it seems, never will be.

Best wishes, O. Burtch.

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