By Jennifer Pendleton
Special to TelevisionWeek
The latest sign the economy is advancing: Signups for Promax&BDA’s 2005 global conference in New York are pacing 5 to 7 percent above last year’s levels, said the trade group’s CEO, Jim Chabin.
Mr. Chabin said he expects 3,300 people-a capacity crowd-to attend the annual conference for television industry marketing, branding, promotion and design professionals, being held Tuesday through Thursday at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square in New York. That would be a jump from the 3,150 who showed up in 2004 and a quantum leap from recession-battered 2003, when, in the aftermath of a stock market slide, dot-com wipeouts and the 9/11 attacks, a mere 1,850 attendees turned up for the annual conference, held that year in Los Angeles.
Marketing has always loomed large in entertainment industry strategic plans, but perhaps never more so than in today’s era of multiple channels and unceasing technological change, which may explain this year’s increased turnout. “Everybody at the top ranks of the industry right now recognizes the importance of promotion and marketing,” Mr. Chabin said. “When things are good, you need to promote. When things are tough, you have to promote.”
Mr. Chabin said participants attend the 50-year-old industry association’s annual global conference primarily for practical reasons-to stay on top of new branding strategies, discover the latest tactics in attracting audiences, and gain greater understanding of new technologies.
To satisfy those aims, Promax&BDA has lined up top marketing executives from all phases of entertainment to make presentations. Reps from traditional broadcasters such as CBS and Fox Broadcasting will attend alongside those from cable networks such as A&E, the Hallmark Channel and the History Channel. The allied commercial art, music and digital production scenes will be represented by, among others, Microsoft corporate VP J Allard, chief architect of the company’s XNA software initiative; and William H. “Bing” Gordon, founder and executive VP of video game giant Electronic Arts.
The conference will include sessions likely to get people buzzing. Nielsen Media Research, a first-time Promax&BDA participant, will put the focus on time-shifting, a consumer trend with the potential to obliterate television’s traditional business model. Another session will address reaching gay and lesbian audiences.
Promax&BDA 2005 will include high-profile speakers and panelists with diverse viewpoints, such as mind/body guru and physician Deepak Chopra, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., commentator Ron Reagan Jr., historical filmmaker Ken Burns and architect Daniel Libeskind. The two-and-a-half-day conference will feature 80 sessions.
Promax&BDA 2005 will open late Tuesday afternoon with an address by The Walt Disney Co.’s co-chairman of Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, Anne Sweeney. After her opening remarks, Ms. Sweeney will present the Television Century Award, an honor bestowed upon outstanding industry figures, to fellow Disney Media Networks co-Chairman and ESPN President George Bodenheimer. PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell and legendary broadcast journalist Bill Moyers will receive similar honors.
As in the past, Promax&BDA will put the spotlight on 10 Campaigns of Distinction, recent promotional and marketing efforts that demonstrated particular effectiveness as judged by a panel of five seasoned marketing pros. “It’s how they’ve managed their brand in the last year, or transformed it,” Mr. Chabin said when asked how Promax&BDA selected the winners. “We looked for people who quietly, or not so quietly, accomplished major strategic shifts.”
The winners include campaigns representing broadcasting, cable, pay cable, syndication and satellite programming services. Among them: ABC’s promotional efforts for “Desperate Housewives,” the breakout hit that helped drive the network’s 2004-05 season turnaround; the launch of “The Tony Danza Show” into the fiercely competitive syndication market by Buena Vista Television; the publicity and promotion blitz accompanying the introduction of Microsoft’s Xbox; and other distinctive campaigns from DirecTV, Comedy Central, Showtime, TBS, TV Guide Channel, TV Land and UPN.
Odds are good that New York will become the permanent home for the Promax&BDA annual global conference, given strong attendance figures, Mr. Chabin said. After soft attendance at the 2003 conference, the organization polled members to figure out what went wrong. Its leaders determined that New York was the most practical and desirable location because so many Promax&BDA members work there, in addition to the city’s numerous hotels, meeting facilities, and cultural attractions.
Promax&BDA Global Conference
What: Promax&BDA is a nonprofit association dedicated to advancing the role and effectiveness of promotion, marketing and broadcast design professionals in the electronic media.
Opening speaker: Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Media Networks, The Walt Disney Co., and president, Disney-ABC Television Group
When: June 21-23
Where: Marriott Marquis at Times Square, New York
Agenda: To address the
latest trends in branding strategies, marketing tactics and new technologies
Tickets: $995 for members; $1,595 for nonmembers;
registration will stop at 3,300 attendees
Information: www.promax.tv or 310-788-7600