Promax Seeks a Route to Its Future

Jun 17, 2007  •  Post A Comment

In the wake of the success of last week’s Promax/BDA conference in New York — which scored a coup with a keynote speech by former President Bill Clinton — the media marketing organization’s executives are preparing for its future.
Heading the list of priorities in the coming weeks will be the selection of a new face to lead Promax/ BDA, something board members had hoped to finalize before the conference. However, as the interview process has proceeded, executives have broadened their options, even mulling the possibility of hiring two people for the position previously held by Jim Chabin. Mr. Chabin, who had been Promax CEO since 2003, resigned earlier this year following internal battles with the board over the direction of the organization.
“Whoever takes the position will have to be someone who is capable of not only having vision but also able to run the organization in an efficient, cost-effective manner,” said Promax Chairman Mike Benson. “In our strategy of finding someone who can accomplish this, we are considering all options, including dividing the job into two positions. We are also looking outside of our own industry to bring someone in and get a fresh point of view.”
Mr. Benson noted that in keeping its options open and taking its time with the interview process, the board would be able to hire the best possible candidate for the job.
He also said besting last week’s gathering would be a significant challenge that board members were already taking on.
Before the conference even began, board members knew the upward trend of registration, membership and sponsorships pointed to what would likely be a successful event. However, the final numbers for the show beat even the most optimistic prognostications, with attendance breaking the 3,500 mark, a modern high. Early projections had suggested a figure closer to 3,000.
In addition to President Clinton, other key speakers included filmmaker John Waters and fashion magnate Kenneth Cole. The conference also featured a slew of panels designed to share information with attendees.
“On Tuesday alone, we had 300 people walk up and register, with about 25 percent of them getting a full membership for the year,” Mr. Benson said. “That speaks well not only to the quality of our speakers and tracks, but also to the amount of real work that was getting done here.”
Syndicators were out in full force at the conference, meeting with affiliates to discuss promotional strategies for both new and veteran programs. International contingents were in attendance as well, learning about the latest promotional strategies being used by digital media.
“For me the big draw was that I wanted to hear Clinton speak, but what struck me while I was here was what an amazing job they did juxtaposing the future and the past,” said John Helmrich, president of international program distributor IBC, who hadn’t attended Promax in five years. “Also, it’s still a great schmoozefest.”
Promax regulars pointed to the ideas being discussed in the uncharted frontier of digital platforms as a key to the conference’s success.
“Now more than ever, there is a need for idea exchange,” said Lori Pate, founder of transmedia solution group Lori Pate. “When there are so many opportunities being discussed on ways to make this technology work, it makes it feel like a must-attend for your company.”
As the Promax board sets its agenda for next year’s gathering, Mr. Benson noted a new mantra will be in effect.
“Promax’s goal now isn’t going to be all about growth; instead it will be about improving the quality of what we have.”


  1. Paying Clinton to speak is hardly a triumph. It only involved contacting his speaking agent, obtaining the stratopheric price, and paying it. If the reporter is so enamored with our impeached, disbarred-for-five-years, ex-President, perhaps something other than “coup” could have been chosen, like “devil worship” — but then 33% of Democrats also prefer Hillary, who in a single hearing testified “I don’t remember” a stunning 122 times. If these folks are so brilliant, how is it (let’s pause to debate the meaning of “is”) that they cannot remember anything in a sworn deposition?

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