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Blurred Lines: The Fine Line between Ads and Editorial at Advertising Week Europe

As part of DGC’s annual exchange program with Eulogy! – in which one DGC’er and one Eulogite have the opportunity to work from each other’s offices for a full week – I’ve been lucky enough to not only be in London, but also attend Advertising Week Europe.

I am less than 48 hours into being in London and have already experienced a couple of sessions with the likes of News Corp and Mashable execs. Here is a brief snapshot:

The Future of News & Advertising

This unique fireside chat between Robert Thomson, CEO of News Corporation, and Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO of WPP Global, brought two luminaries to the stage. They spoke to numerous pressing topics today from the future of traditional media, to who’s to blame for failing with digital advertising.

Native advertising was definitely one of the hot topics of discussion. Sorrell explained how the boundaries between the editorial and business sides are breaking down and that it’s fine as long as there is transparency along the way. In fact, both executives agreed that, in an ideal world, consumers would prefer to opt-out rather than opt-in, and people will pay for content if it is good. Thomson also admitted that quality content can be expensive, so it’s critical to identify more ways to increase the monetization of such content. He further explained that the value of content creation proves more than ever that distribution is important.
The session wrapped up with Thomson and Sorrell debating over whether numerous industries, including that of public relations and public affairs, have been creatively or destructively disrupted by digital. Only time will tell…

Fast Company Founder’s Conversation 

This much anticipated session shed a new light on the editorial direction of Mashable. The fireside chat featured Bob Safian, Editor of Fast Company, casually asking questions of Pete Cashmore, the very well-known CEO and Founder of Mashable. And once again, native advertising was a hot topic. Pete agreed that it’s a good thing as long as it’s a win-win for all involved, and that a reader’s best interest is always kept in mind.

The message Pete drove home throughout the session was Mashable’s seemingly transformed focus on its editorial content – no longer restricting its walls to social media and other such related topics. His vision is to bring forth what the world cares about across the board on various topics – even weather.

Pete called out that journalism is a part of Mashable’s DNA. It was evident that the outlet wants to shift its perception of being more like a New York Times than that of say a BuzzFeed or The Huffington Post. That said, Pete still feels strongly that Mashable will always target its core audience of early adopters as they are “likely at the cutting edge of everything – not just technology.”

Something Pete Cashmore mentioned in his session was proven true today: the proliferation of technology has changed the playing field, with anyone and everyone having the ability to be successful from anywhere – not just Madison Avenue and Silicon Valley. It’s safe to say that Advertising Week Europe will continue to grow in its presence over the coming years.

It was a whirlwind of a first day! I’m looking forward to attending additional sessions during my trip and will be back at week’s end with more key takeaways and learnings. In the meantime, follow the conversation @digennaro and check out some pics here to get a snapshot of my week in London and Advertising Week Europe.

DiGennaro Communications Forms Partnership with London-based Eulogy

DiGennaro opened its doors in Manhattan some six years ago, methodically building a practice that makes us the go-to B2B PR shop among advertising and marketing firms. This week, we took a leap across the pond, solidifying our strategic partnership with London-based PR shop Eulogy to offer best-in-class communications for the ad-marketing space, as PRWeek reported. The full announcement can be viewed here.

WPP companies MEC and The Brand Union are the foundation for this expansion because both are multinational marketing agencies with a London presence. We just want say thank you to all of our clients and to the dedicated staff on both sides of the Atlantic, who made this possible.

2011 Cannes Lions: From Advertising to Creativity

With its name change, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity made it very clear that this event is about more than just advertising. And as DGC founder Sam DiGennaro wrote earlier, this week gives people more than just an opportunity to mingle; it offers up the chance to have face time with clients and learn from some of the most creative and successful people across industries.

To give you an idea of just how “creative” Cannes Lions can be, we’ve included two clips below from last week’s festivities. One includes a brief discussion between the legendary Patti Smith and Grey Group‘s Tim Mellors during the 5th Annual Music Legends session. The other clip includes DreamWorks‘ Jeffrey Katzenberg sharing his thoughts with WPP‘s Sir Martin Sorrell on the tablet.

Movies, music, poetry, advertising…the perfect creative combination.

Patti Smith and Tim Mellors:

DreamWork’s Jeffrey Katzenberg and Sir Martin Sorrell:

If Your Roots are Forgotten Then Your Fruits Will Rotten

Lessons from the Re-Launch of Adweek

Given that our bread and butter exists in handling PR for advertising and marketing services agencies, you can imagine our anticipation of the Adweek re-launch. New reporters to pitch, column inches to fill, stories to sell! In our business, Adweek is one of two decades-old trade Bibles (the other being Advertising Age). After Brandweek and Mediaweek slowly folded into online-only outlets over the past few months and Adweek went from weekly to bi-weekly mailings, we had less room for client ink. Not necessarily the best scenario for a business that prides itself on helping agencies reach influential decision makers in a highly-fragmented and narrowly covered industry.

Truth is, Adweek has spent months reconfiguring the book, shaking up its staff, and deciphering how to keep pace with and stay relevant to the ever-evolving industry that is advertising (or is it media? or is it digital?). All the while, we’ve done what we do best – innovate by necessity. We landed profile pieces on our clients’ CEOs and told stories about culture-shifting trends around diversity and shopper marketing to publications like Time and Forbes. We encouraged our clients to commission studies – like a recent one by WPP’s Geppetto Group that found Boomers are actually seeking youth-oriented brands. And while Adweek, like an old college friend, was always in the back of our minds, we figured we’d know when the time was right to resurrect the relationship.

And so it came. April 18. The re-launch of Adweek. We passed around the new glossy like it was People magazine. Maybe that’s because it was like People magazine. With a proliferation of color photos and data info graphics, a slicker design and a deeper focus on entertainment media (see: Story on Arianna Huffington), the new Adweek isn’t your father’s trade magazine (as Editorial Director Michael Wolff eloquently put it in his letter to readers). And, while the new Adweek looks and feels different, it still fills the void that it left during its hiatus (or paint-drying re-launch as some might call it). The cover story features hot agencies that are popping up in Brooklyn, and another article discusses Detroit’s efforts to revitalize its ad business amidst a financially-disadvantaged city. And so between the pages of glitz and glamour, we are reminded of our own roots, and why it’s okay to do what you do best, while leaving room to reinvent the wheel here and there. And with that, we tip our hats to Adweek and offer a big round of applause, with a reminder that we’ll be calling soon, of course. Congrats.

Transformation 2011 with John Paulson

John Paulson, CEO of WPP’s G2 USA, shares his thoughts on this year’s 4A’s Transformation Conference.

Advertising’s Star Search

Advertising holding company leaders gripe that the industry lags in tapping and nurturing good talent.

WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell, appearing on a panel with IPG’s Michael Roth and Omnicom’s John Wren at the 4A’s conference in Austin, blasted the advertising industry’s “criminal neglect” in finding, recruiting, and keeping top talent. Instead of devoting time and resources to executive development, “if we need talent, we steal them.” he said. Holding companies should have a “chief talent officer” who identifies and nurtures good performers.

The three execs, in a rare appearance together, agreed that the industry needs to do a better job recruiting from business schools, film schools and art schools.

Sure, the ad biz competes with other industries for talent. But with so many people out of work and young college graduates eager to join the workforce, are promising, potential stars so hard to find?

These top industry executives probably weren’t around for earlier sessions at the conference when college students studying advertising and marketing in Austin asked questions about opportunities in the industry. (Perhaps the 4A’s should include promising ad students in part of their program next year…?)

Three cheers for Ronda Carnegie, TED’s global partnership director. She spoke up after the bigwig panel, saying “the best talent is sitting in your organization and you don’t know who they are…They’re there.”