In Depth

Making The Most of Marketers

Inaugural Honors Help Promax/BDA Put Marketing in Spotlight

“This year’s Promax/BDA conference is a game-changer,” said Jonathan Block-Verk, president of the organization. “The agenda is innovation—it’s engagement, it’s forward-thinking, it’s about thought leadership. It’s about putting the marketer at the center of the entertainment and information content business.”

The 2008 conference opens Tuesday in New York, where Promax/BDA will again establish that it is the largest television marketing conference in the world. The gathering attracts industry leaders and executives from top television networks, cable channels, local stations, station groups, distribution, syndication, media and creative agencies, design and emerging media.

This year, in addition to the strong lineup of speakers—including “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and the Rev. Jesse Jackson—the conference will feature the inaugural Marketing Maverick Awards presentation.

The Maverick Awards, a joint venture between TelevisionWeek and Promax/ BDA, will honor the best marketing campaigns in media during the past year. The four award winners are John Quinn, public affairs marketing exec at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.; Michael Benson and Marla Provencio, executive VPs, marketing, ABC Entertainment; Steven Melnick, senior VP, marketing, 20th Century Fox TV; and Suzanne Kolb, chief marketing officer, E! Entertainment TV/Style Network, and general manager for E! Online.

“The Marketing Maverick Award is really about recognizing innovation. It’s recognizing those thought leaders—they may be senior level or entry level—but they are individuals the industry nominates who represent the future of what this business is going to become from a marketer’s perspective,” said Mr. Block-Verk. “They’re marketing professionals or programmers with a marketing background, and marketing touches all aspects of the TV business. Increasingly, you have to have a marketing mind to succeed in this business.

“Marketing Maverick represents the individuals who are defining what this business is becoming. This year’s conference is all about that. It’s putting marketers, promoters and designers in the center of this business, which is where they belong,” he said.

Mr. Block-Verk spotlighted a number of key sessions, including one featuring Mr. Blitzer and Rev. Jackson, who will engage attendees in a conversation about news, politics, sensationalism and the evolving power and responsibility of news marketing professionals.

“They’re talking about the role of news marketing and positioning news,” said Mr. Block-Verk. “They’re talking about ethical versus business practices. How do you market the news and maintain integrity when Paris Hilton is considered news?”

Mr. Block-Verk also is bullish about a session led by Ken Robinson, author of “Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative.” “He’s going to talk about creativity, tapping into new ways of thinking, teaching yourself how to genuinely think outside the box. How to get out of your comfort zone and think about business and your model in different ways.”

The conference, Mr. Block-Verk says, is an important media event because marketing matters now more than ever. “Increasingly, marketers are the ones who are being looked at to define what this industry is going to become and what it already has become,” he said. “Marketers are the ones who are looked at to drive the monetization of content and drive the business. You look at some of the most senior executives in the business. They are the ones who are defining how these large companies are redefining themselves and redefining what it is that they do. That said, Promax/BDA will go beyond the linear business model, approaching marketing challenges across multiplatforms. We’re talking about entertainment and information content on whatever platform, whatever conduit, whatever medium, in whatever formats,” said Mr. Block-Verk. “Sponsor-driven, ad-driven, subscription-driven, it’s content on all platforms and all sorts of paradigms. The television industry needs to learn about these new paradigms and recognize that there’s a whole new world of competitors out there. It’s not just who else is on the dial.”