Intelligence and Idiocy Fill ad:tech Chicago's Party Scene
Monday night at ad:tech Chicago 2006, there were many parties after the first day of the show and I made it to a few. First, CIMA, the Chicago Interactive Marketing Association, had a opening Night Party beginning at 5:30P which was lame and sparsely attended - perhaps because DoubleClick was having a party at Avenue M at the same time, so I wandered toward the exit of the exhibit hall but was distracted, again, by the beautiful Amy Dillard, dressed like a blue butterfly, sitting alone at the extravagantmedia booth. I spent a few minutes with her and found out she models occasionally for PMG Management and is from Kentucky. And yes, she does have that alluringly transfixing southern accent.
After 15 minutes or so, the equally beautiful Ariel Waldman who I'd met early in the day, passed by and said a bunch of her agency co-workers were heading over to the second CIMA party at Fultons on the River. Who am I to say know to an invite like that so we cabbed it over to Fulton's and met up with five of her co-workers from VML and checked out the very early CIMA party happenings.
Since we are all slaves to trends in this industry, we absolutely had to attend the MySpace cruise over at Chicago's Navy Pier. As we all got out of our cars/cabs, we met up with MySpace's Midwest sales guy whose name I didn't catch and his two dates. Overly curvaceous and tightly dressed dates to note. The boat was cool. The cruise was nice. The food was good. The company was fun. The weather cooperated. Eye candy was in full supply and we met one woman, a real estate agent in Chicago, whose bulging beasts looked like they were going to explode out of her top any second. She had been invited to the party by her sister and was a MySpace newbie having never heard of the company before. Though hard to believe, there are still people in this world who don't bow to the feet of the MySpace god like the second coming of Jesus. But there were three teen dudes standing outside the entry to the ship displaying the sort of freakish adoration for "Tom." Yes, they thought "Tom" was on the boat.
As we got off the boat, Ariel popped a hole in their Jesus bubble by reminding them MySpace is just a website and, contrary to their apparent obsession with the site, there is most certainly life outside of MySpace. That didn't dissuade them from hugging the MySpace notebooks a MySpace employee gave them like it was the first breast they had ever touched. After our up close, first-hand experience with three true MySpace worshipers, we wondered why the entire industry thinks dudes like this actually care about any form of traditional marketing message placed in front of them. They're too enamored with the Church of MySpace and all it offers to even notice an ad on a page. Perhaps MySpace should forget about ad revenue, create the Church of Tom and charge for entry.
By now, Ariel's co-workers were long gone, apparently tired of watching us torture these poor dudes. From there, we just sort of walked and talked, talked and walked and, yes, walked and talked discussing everything from the industry to photography to music to movies to Ariel's entry into the agency business early in her career an how it's changed since.
After more walking and talking, we found ourselves on Michigan Avenue where we were very politely accosted by a very verbose homeless guy with whom we debated the merits of good deeds and their resulting effect on a person's life. Seriously heady stuff for your stereotypical homeless dude. Of course, the goal of his entire rant was to get money but, after 15 minutes of pseudo-intellectual conversation and marveling over Ariel's willingness to treat this guy like a human and not like a pothole to step over, we moved on.
After a quick stop at Starbucks for some water, we headed over to the Multi-Company, so called Official After Party at Rock Bottom. That's the place with the rooftop bar where every year, some ad:tech party occurs. Given the kind of party it was, we were not surprised to be approached by one of the industry's bottom feeders who shared his business model with us - "a bunch of independent sites" - and how he thought it was cool to use Google to search for blog posts about a certain topic and them post a comment on every single one of them while dropping in URLs for his sites. He didn't seem to understand he was fully engaged in practicing the S word.
Since the rooftop bar was filled with sweaty, semi-intelligent people, Ariel and I went downstairs where there was AC and sat for a while talking about why it seems there are an inordinate amount of people in the industry who talk about topics like viral marketing or search engine marketing but few who actually engage in the practice. Our conclusion? In advertising, we love to hear ourselves talk. We love to write books. We love to moderate panels and give speeches. We love to stand in front of a client and spew forth meaningless words that sound intelligent and one-up us because the client doesn't know what they mean. We love to dress cool even though we're over 30 and shouldn't. We love to borrow other's ideas and call them our own. We love to outsource work to others and take all the credit. We love to promise the client our agency can, of course, perform even the most obscure service when, clearly, we can not. We love to wallow in our perceived cool factor when the rest of the world hates what we do as a business. Isn't this business great?
OK, then. Enough dour pontifications. After a wonderfully enjoyable, intellectually stimulating night, it was time to go home so, idiot that I am and clearly in need of a hearing aid, I walk Ariel, who doesn't know Chicago, to the House of Blues Hotel only the have her tell me, "I'm not staying here. I'm at the Hard Rock." Oops. So off we went again, Walking. Talking. Taking pictures. Getting approached by even more homeless people. And then it was Ariel's turn. "Where is this place?" Um, you're standing in front of it. Finally. The Hard Rock Hotel. Goodnight. Goodbye. Thanks for a great time. Awkward hug or not to hug moment. See you tomorrow.
Oh come on! What were you all expecting? We run a gentlemanly operation around here. See some more images of the night here.