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Promax Gets New Home

Jun 9, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Fire marshals interrupting packed panels. A move to New York City. More attendees from Nick at Nite/TV Land than from ABC. The potential birth of promotional upfronts. Welcome to the new Promax, a conference determined to redefine it’s image after a down economy that dipped attendance in recent years.
With registration for the event slightly down but approaching 2,500 people, Promax&BDA CEO Jim Chabin set out to capitalize on the convention’s strengths, announcing a move of the annual conference to New York next year that would play to a growing cable crowd and Madison Avenue.
Perhaps the biggest step for Promax as it heads to New York next year is consideration of a “promotional upfront” designed to wrap media buyers with the promo heads. Mr. Chabin confirmed that discussions were under way to hold a meeting after next year’s upfront and days before the start of Promax that would entice Madison Avenue to further take root in shows.
“I want to create a day or day and a half to allow media buyers to do presentations that would allow them to tie clients into a show above buying spots,” said Mr. Chabin. “Studios are looking for partners, and we want to show media planners how they can tie into programming in ways they haven’t thought of before. After all, Promax has always been about thinking outside the box, and bringing in the advertisers only reaffirms that we are working to sustain that.”
Los Angeles now becomes a stop on the organization’s Ratings Roadshow, a mini-Promax convention that travels the country to meet with promo executives who are unable to afford travel to the yearly event. Other stops include Seattle, Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas.
“In the post-9/11 era it makes the most sense both from a financial and business standpoint to make the move to New York,” Mr. Chabin said. “Not only will the move provide us with access to great speakers and excellent hotel facilities as well as a lower cost than coming to L.A., but we’ll be able to get media buyers into [the] mix.”
Long gone are the elaborate syndicator workshops designed to teach stations how to plan promotional opportunities for their shows and at one time featured celebrities crawling a convention floor. Shifting back to a hotel this year, Promax has seen cable players flooding the building and taking progressively bigger roles in panels, presentations and attendance.
“I don’t think a single member of our board would vote to go back to a convention center at this point,” said Mr. Chabin. “A hotel means a more intimate atmosphere and an increased vibe that people are feeding on. With the growth of cable in the mix, it means a very healthy future for our organization.”
Cable executives reaffirmed their commitment to the organization.
“Cable has dominated Promax for the past eight years,” said Oxygen Media Creative Director Scott Webb, who noted that panels designed to increase awareness and ratings at the convention were eaten up by attendees. “I saw some of the best things I’ve ever seen at Promax this year. Lee Hunt’s `How To Boost Your Ratings’ gave me goosebumps. It had great practical info, and so often what you got in past years were nothing but people trying to sell you on their company.”
Mr. Chabin noted that cable players, continuing to chip away at network ratings, remain aggressive.
“Broadcast executives stay away from this event at their own peril because cable is here learning how to add ratings with ruthless efficiency,” he said. “The ratings game is too competitive to think you don’t have to learn anymore.”
Some networks were clearly paying attention. NBC and ABC held affiliate meetings, which saw some station executives meet their network counterparts for the first time. Executives from both companies noted that the meetings provided face-to-face time that proved fruitful.
“I’m a big believer in Promax. It’s clear we need a venue like this to have contact with stations and thank them,” said Mary Beth McAdaragh, VP of marketing for NBC Enterprises. “Nobody has any money and they are trying to do more with less. That’s why it’s lucky for us to have the power of the NBC Agency behind us. It was invigorating to see how excited stations were about our upcoming series `Starting Over,’ and we were able to unveil a spot today that we wanted to get out to stations. I don’t care where Promax is next year as long as it exists. If it’s in New York, great, because I can do other business while I’m there.”
James Hibberd contributed to this report.