By Anna Sekula Posted September 30, 2009, 8:00 AM EDT
With an estimated 60,000 advertising and media executives in attendance every year, Advertising Week is one of the largest U.S. gatherings for the Madison Avenue crowd. This year a new event, the “Night of the AdEaters”—a screening of some of world's most creative commercials—concluded the five-day outing on Friday night. Introduced to Europe in 1981 by Jean Marie Boursicot, the ”Night of the AdEaters”—or ”La Nuit des Publivores” as it was originally known—is designed to acknowledge and inspire cinematic innovation in advertising and now takes place in more than 160 cities around the world.
To bring the show to New York for the first time and raise funds for Advertising Week's charity organization, GeneratioNext, two media agencies, Findr Interactive and Gravity Media, gathered about 740 advertising folks and more than a dozen sponsors for an event at Terminal 5 that started at 8 p.m. and ended around 1 a.m. Presenting 200 or so television spots from more than 40 countries, the organizers charged $99 per ticket, a price that was discounted to $50 at the door.
With an archive of 950,000 commercials (including one that dates back to 1898), Boursicot personally curates a different program for each “Night” and for the New York launch picked selections as recent as Dubai's 2008 spot for Mountain Dew and ones as old as the 1917 promotion for Liberty Bonds, starring Charlie Chaplin. To set the scene, organizers kept it simple, focusing on the content with few distractions other than a handful of sponsor booths, some food, and drinks.
What the late-night gathering did provide, aside from four hours of unusual (and occasionally humorous) commercials, was an opportunity for the professionals in attendance to network. Despite the pitch darkness of the screening room, hundreds of attendees huddled around the bars and the buffet to chat with each other, recounting their busy week and favorite ads of the evening.