4A’s Transformation Conference Tackles Challenges of Changing Industry

The 4A’s drew upwards of 1,300 advertising and entertainment industry professionals to a two-day conference at the Beverly Hilton that was dedicated to tackling the key challenges of a changing industry-privacy, talent and the impact of technology. The speaker roster was a cross between the biggest names in the ad industry such as Sir Martin Sorrell and Lee Clow, and leaders in new media organizations including Facebook’s Carolyn Everson and Hulu’s Jason Kilar.

Nancy Hill, 4A’s President-CEO since 2008, opened the conference, and some of her remarks quickly became tweets. The first, “Transformation is not done. This is a perpetual state.” The second, “We are living in a time that is more creative than we’ve ever experienced.” Third, “We got ahead of the FCC regarding self-regulation of digital advertising, and they have approved our plan.”

Other highlights from the conference are as follows:

Privacy: Sir Martin and Lanier Face-Off
WPP Group CEO Sir Martin Sorrell and Microsoft’s Jason Lanier faced off on privacy concerns. After a light-hearted exchange in which Sir Martin suggested that he and Lanier might each represent “different species,” they discussed technology’s advancement, its potential threat to personal privacy, its attraction for scammers, and the current proclivity to analyze reams of data before they’re analyzable. Sir Martin also emphasized the increasing client demand for measurement in the social-media space.

Talent: Open Advertising Platform Launch Resets Conversation
The 4A’s, in conjunction with Arnold Worldwide, launched a new web-based video platform called Open Advertising, aimed at young adults and intended to attract best-in-class talent to the ad-marketing industry. The site’s primary feature is a collection of videos from young ad professionals sharing their work experiences. In addition to highlighting the diversity of roles in the industry, Open Advertising showcases how technology and innovation are at the core of marketing and advertising today. The launch of the Open Advertising Web site was announced Wednesday by Arnold Worldwide Global CEO and Havas Worldwide Global Chief Strategy Officer Andrew Benett, Sharon Napier, CEO, Partners + Napier, and 4A’s President-CEO Nancy Hill.

In addition, Ron Berger, former Euro RSCG executive and a founder of Advertising Week, shared news on a separate talent initiative. The High School of Innovation and Media (IAM), which Berger co-founded and is sponsored by the 4A’s, is getting ready to graduate its first senior class. Some of those students presented at the first TEDx Harlem conference on Tuesday. They created an integrated campaign in support of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” effort to combat childhood obesity.

Impact of Technology: Hulu, Facebook and Social Media as Printing Press
Numerous presentations throughout the conference homed in on the impact of technology in our daily lives. Hulu’s Jason Kilar shared a vision for customizable TV that can serve up content in the same manner that Pandora does for music on the Web. Facebook’s Carolyn Everson, VP, Global Marketing Solutions shared the rationale behind recent creative hires, and their desire to work more closely with agencies. Nick Bilton, Bits blogger for The New York Times, suggested that social-media channels might be used as a modern-day printing press. He showed data visualizations of social activity around the globe soon after Michael Jackson’s death in 2009. Lee Clow and Steve Hayden shared stories of the making of the “1984” commercial and remembered Steve Jobs and his quest to “democratize technology.”

LA Celebrity Citings
Ryan Seacrest delighted conference attendees by emceeing an evening of emerging artists destined for big-name recognition, which included: Fun., Karmin and K’Nann. Black Eyed Peas frontman Will.I.Am was spotted making the rounds during the performances.