Advertising week in New York is, to borrow a concept from Forrest Gump, like a box of chocolates inside a box of chocolates. Nestled within the panel discussions, speeches and parties are seminars, presentations and events sponsored by a long list of organizations.
For instance, the Radio Advertising Bureau and the Radio Creative Fund presented their 2012 Radio Mercury Awards Wednesday as Advertising Week continued. The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus held its annual conference on Monday and Tuesday. The Advertising Club of New York held its Multicultural Summit on Thursday.
And Advertising Women of New York marked the 100th anniversary of its founding, as the League of Advertising Women of New York, with two events on Thursday: a breakfast, attended by about 200 people, and a luncheon, attended by more than 500.
“When AWNY was founded, women could not vote," Laura Desmond, chief executive of the Starcom MediaVest Group unit of the Publicis Groupe, said in introductory remarks at the breakfast.
The organization began in 1912 with 40 members, she said, growing to 550 in 1962 and more than 1,700 now. “I would like to see, 10 years from now, that number double," Desmond said, to help AWNY “serve as a catalyst for women in the communications field."
“The legacy, 10 years from now, 25 years from now, is in this room," she added. “We have to keep paying it forward."
Desmond then joined a panel discussing such questions as whether female executives were more reluctant to take prime roles in industry conferences than their male counterparts.
“I don’t think there’s a lot of patience for blah-blah" among women, Desmond said. And when it comes to talking about their achievements, she added, “women have a tendency to say, ‘I didn’t do that; I enabled the team.’"
Anne Finucane, global strategy and marketing officer at Bank of America, looked at the other side of the coin. “I think men mostly want to be keynote speakers" at industry events, she said, rather than panelists.
An unscientific sampling of the lineups of panels this week from the organizers of Advertising Week suggested that efforts were being made to recruit women to join the male panelists.
For example, a panel on Thursday billed as a CEO Summit included Laura Lang, chief executive of the Time Inc. division of Time Warner, among its five members. Lang spoke about the challenges she faces in revamping the mainstay Time Inc. print publications for an increasingly digitally oriented audience.
There needs to be more integration of video and print material, Lang said, to reflect the demand among consumers for content “anywhere, anytime."
The advertising system of agencies, marketers and media is “underestimating the profound change" in media habits among consumers, she added, particularly as they embrace mobility.
And while print will “always be around," Lang said, “you’ll never know" what consumers will choose as their next media must-have, “and we have to get really comfortable with that." She cited as an example data gathered by Time Inc. showing that the website of Real Simple magazine now gets more referrals from a social media newcomer, Pinterest, than from Facebook.
Apropos of Facebook, and high-ranking female executives, Carolyn Everson, vice president for global marketing solutions at Facebook, took part in a panel Thursday about innovation in digital publishing and advertising. The central themes were data, mobile devices and what is known as native advertising, or improving the interaction of ads and content.
Of Facebook’s 1 billion users, a milestone announced Thursday, 600 million visit Facebook primarily through mobile devices, Everson said. In some markets, like Southeast Asia and Africa, she added, mobile devices are the main way people use Facebook.