Partnerships Cut Costs, Raise Excitement at AdBall

By Brendan Spiegel February 1, 2011, 2:17 PM EST

Photo: Emma McIntyre for

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Stacey Farber, event manager at the Institute  of Communications Agencies, faced a challenge in planning Thursday night's AdBall, the culminating event of the third annual Toronto Advertising Week. The night needed to be a suitably sophisticated, 620-person party to close out the weeklong series of ad industry events. But it also had to be within the budget of the nonprofit institute, which runs Ad Week. To do so, Farber leveraged some creative and financial help from industry participants and sponsors, including local restaurants and beverage suppliers like Steam Whistle Brewery.

The second annual event, held at Maison Mercer, featured a “va-va-vintage” theme that played off the venue's Art Deco atmosphere. Several industry executives, as well as Farber herself, dressed up in 1940s attire for a pre-event photo shoot, and the black-and-white portraits were blown up and placed around the party.

The evening also included two fashion shows presenting men's and women's wear. For the men's portion, instead of hiring models, Farber recruited 12 advertising executives to walk the runway. “It was a great way to cut costs but also to get people more involved,” Farber said. “Everyone was just screaming for their C.E.O. or boss. You could really feel the buzz in the room.”

For food and libations, Farber found sponsors like William Grant & Sons happy to help, in exchange for exposure to a high-level industry crowd. “Ad execs are so busy that it's hard to find the type of crowd that we put together for this event, where there are high-level people from all 80 Toronto agencies in one room,” says Farber. “So sponsors were eager to get on board.”

The dinner portion of the evening featured a “Taste of Toronto” sampling, where five local restaurantsBuca, BerBer Lounge, the Sultan's Tent, KiWe Kitchen, and Daniel et Danieleach provided a signature dish for free, in exchange for the chance to showcase their food and interact with the crowd.

Drinks were also provided by sponsors, allowing Farber and her team to focus on another goal for the evening, raising more than $10,000 for Connect Her, the institute's program to provide mentoring for women who want to be involved in advertising and communications.

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