Food Trucks, Celebrities and a Madison Avenue Walk of Fame

A food truck for SapientNitro, an agency owned by Sapient, offered ice cream to attendees of Advertising Week 2011.

By and |

A food truck for SapientNitro, an agency owned by Sapient, offered ice cream to attendees of Advertising Week 2011.

HERE is a look at some of the highlights, lowlights and sidelights of Advertising Week 2011, which took place in New York last Monday through Friday.

NEVER TOO EARLY? “Front-running” important calendar events for commercial purposes is becoming increasingly common in marketing. For instance, stores stock shelves with Halloween candy before Labor Day and Christmas ads appear in October issues of magazines.

Perhaps in that spirit, the Mobile Marketing Association announced on Wednesday — the third day of Advertising Week — that it would host a two-day Mobile Conference and Expo during Advertising Week 2012 and had already lined up a “founding” sponsor, Millennial Media.

“Mobile needs to take its rightful place as a key player during Advertising Week,” Greg Stuart, chief executive of the association, said in a statement.

Being first to discuss next year’s agenda is “perhaps excessive,” John Bianchi, a spokesman for the association, wrote in an e-mail, “but they’re excited” about the opportunity to hold a conference amid an Advertising Week.

MSN-ING IN ACTION A breakfast on Wednesday, sponsored by the MSNBC Digital Network, was to have featured Brian Williams. When he became unavailable, Tom Brokaw was to have filled in. When Mr. Brokaw bowed out, Willie Geist of the MSNBC shows “Morning Joe” and “Way Too Early With Willie Geist” stepped in as his replacement.

Alas, Mr. Geist did not arrive at the breakfast until 10:03 a.m., three minutes after its listed end time. By then, most of the guests — puzzled by the absence of the speaker — had already left. “They told me to be here at 10:15,” Mr. Geist said. Still, there were consolation prizes: goody bags with Mr. Geist’s book, “American Freak Show,” and packages of Starbucks Morning Joe coffee.

HI HO, THE GLAMOROUS LIFE At a news conference on Tuesday, the organizers of Advertising Week announced the results of the annual vote by consumers to select additional members of the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame.

As has been the case since the first Advertising Week, in 2004, the news conference was populated by people dressed like brand characters. The lineup included the 2010 winners, the Michelin Man and the Vlasic stork; the Kool-Aid pitcher; Mr. Peanut, of Planters fame; Tony the Tiger, for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes; and Smokey Bear.

Among the costumed horde was an actor dressed like, well, himself: Dean Winters, who plays the brand character named Mayhem in commercials for Allstate insurance. Mayhem was one of two characters inducted for 2011, along with the Coca-Cola polar bears.

Mr. Winters was a good sport, posing with the costumed characters and even letting someone dressed as a bottle of French’s mustard pretend to slather his arm. Asked for his thoughts, Mr. Winters replied, smiling, “I feel like I’m on acid.”

He liked the line enough to offer a variation when called to the microphone during the news conference. “I’m speechless,” Mr. Winters said. “I feel like I’m tripping.”

Two slogans were also inducted into the Walk of Fame for 2011: “What happens here, stays here,” for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, and “What’s in your wallet?,” for Capital One. They join slogans like the 2010 winners, “The best a man can get,” for Gillette, and “If you see something, say something,” for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

STARS IN YOUR EYES Mr. Winters was not the only entertainer who took a star turn during Advertising Week.

Justin Timberlake appeared at an event on Monday night to promote his new investment, MySpace, part of Specific Media. Sarah Jessica Parker appeared on Tuesday at a breakfast sponsored by the Women@NBCU division of NBCUniversal; she was interviewed by Andy Cohen of Bravo, also part of NBCUniversal.

When Mr. Cohen asked Ms. Parker to talk about how she uses her BlackBerry to juggle her busy schedule, she replied, “You’d have to ask my BlackBerry if I can talk to you about my BlackBerry.” Ms. Parker also joked that as a mother, she often wonders, “What will I do today that will scar this child for life?”

PROMOTIONAL VEHICLES New for Advertising Week 2011 was the widespread presence of food trucks sponsored by advertising, marketing and media companies.

The truck for SapientNitro, an agency owned by Sapient, offered attendees ice cream. AOL provided Cupcake Crew fare. ABC gave away “manly” food like sliders, inspired by its new Tim Allen sitcom, “Last Man Standing”; attendees could watch previews of the show on screens attached to the truck.

By midweek, regular food trucks joined in. One, the Crepes Truck, had a chalkboard pitching an “Ad Week special,” a five-ingredient crepe for $7.

IT’S ROASTED For the first time since Advertising Week 2007, an industry figure was roasted at the Friars Club. Then, it was O. Burtch Drake, who stepped down as chief executive of the American Association of Advertising Agencies. On Wednesday, it was Rick Boyko, who is stepping down as director of the Brandcenter at Virginia Commonwealth University.

The roast for Mr. Boyko, like the roast for Mr. Drake, was too blue to be described in a family newspaper. One of the few printable japes came from Oren Katzeff, general manager of, part of Demand Media, who mocked the guests by declaring, “I’ve always dreamed of people TiVo-ing my life’s worth and fast-forwarding through it to get to the Kardashians.”

Another similarity was that guests at the Boyko roast, like guests at the Drake roast, received bobblehead dolls of the honoree. Several attendees jokingly dismissed the Boyko dolls as Drake dolls that had been beheaded and reheaded.