April 13, 2010

The 4-A's Foray


Now this could only happen to a guy like me,
And only happen in a town like this,
So may I say to each of you most gratefully,
As I throw each one of you a kiss.

We are convinced that our friend, David Verklin is the luckiest person on Madison Avenue. He's the only person in advertising that would inspire AdAge.com to report (from last week's 4-A's conference in Orlando) that, "Massive changes affecting print, TV and radio have taken their toll" was news! Mind you, it was AdAge.com's front-page lead.

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We found this amusing. Last year the MadAve Journal interviewed Verklin to talk about his book, "Watch This, Listen Up, Click Here". As we are prone to do with interesting personalities, we likened Verklin to Sinatra, based on the fact that both guys rose to the top of their business from almost nowhere. Verklin from Pittsburgh & Sinatra from Hoboken they both became a major voice in changing the direction of their industry. In essence, you could say that New York ultimately became Dave & Frank's kind of town.

This is my kind of town, Orlando is,
My kind of town, Orlando is,

Masters of the universe from print, TV and radio, like John Squires, exec VP, Time Inc, Frank Comerford, president-general manager of WNBC and David J. Field, president-CEO, Entercom Communications Corp were on the panel, among others. From the tone of the article, none of these guys felt like David threw each one of them a kiss!

My kind of people too,
People who smile at you,

Giving a first-person account of the seemingly tension-filled atmosphere, AdAge.com reported from the front lines that Verklin "peppered the panel with questions such as...."


We're not sure that David would have thought his performance as moderator of the panel was so striking. For someone so much in the media trades limelight, Verklin is quite down to earth. We expect he would have said he was just asking the obvious questions.

And each time I roam, Orlando is,
Calling me home, Orlando is,

We also don't expect that anyone in the audience would have been dumbfounded with the "news" either. The big question on our mind was, why Nancy Hill didn't get as much coverage as that news story deserved in light of her taking charge of the 4-A's. Was it a slow news day?

Our answer is yes and no. Yes, it was a slow news day. No, the panel made news because of David's timing. Not for being in Orlando. For being the only media head who can straddle both the world of offline and the world of online. Most of the media CEO's on Madison Avenue are relics of the Sinatra-era. So the rate of change you might say is slow. Why would Sean Finnegan have left the OMD Digital CEO job? Because he couldn't keep up? We don't think so.

Why I just brim like a cloud,
It's my kind of town,

Had Chan Suh, Scott Heifferman or some other dyed-in-the-wool net evangelist been the moderator, the panel would have quibbled more. But because Verklin is a "made-guy" in the traditional biz, we expect questions coming from him had a less stinging effect, and thus gave the esteemed panel some breathing room to be less defensive; more forthcoming.

My kind of razzmatazz,
And it has, all that jazz,

ORLANDO, Fla. (AdAge.com) -- On a panel titled "Are Traditional Media Really Adjusting to the New Digital World?" held before a large audience attending the 4A's annual Media Conference and Trade Show, several representatives from a broad swath of media types admitted that the massive changes affecting print, TV and radio have taken their toll.

The Disneyworld, Orlando is,
And Universal, Orlando is,

We guess we should be relieved in a way. Coming clean means that future 4-A's conferences will have less handwringing. We're glad someone finally out-ed the obvious. Even though the 4A's is still grounded in the 20th century, Nancy's "digital, digital, digital" foretells a brighter, more dynamic 4'A's is yet to come. Does any of this make it news? You decide.


One town that won't let you down,
It's my kind of town,

Here's one thing we've made up our minds on. You've really got to hand it to Verklin doing something that's really headline-level stuff. Last year (and so far this year,) he's the only global media head that's appointed a net-insider to take charge of his company's future. As most know in 2007 he appointed ad:tech board-member, Sarah Fay to Carat CEO,

So perhaps we should give a nod to AdAge.com for its astute reporting after all. It seems that the 4A's has finally acknowledged that "Ole Blue Eyes" has left the building.

Hey AdAge.com, here's something really worth reporting. Check out the industry's next major conference in April and see Sarah's ad:tech in action as it focuses on the solution; advertising technology is the way of the future!

It's in San Francisco. You may leave your heart there!


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