TV takes a backseat at troubled trade show.

Author:Somers, Erin
Position:The Promax Story

McMahon, Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane and political activist Jesse Jackson delivered keynotes at this year's 53rd annual Promax BDA conference, which ended June 19 at the New York Hilton, in Manhattan.

Promax is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization for marketing professionals, while BDA, also based in L.A., is an association of broadcast and multimedia designers. The two organizations have a combined membership of about 3,000 companies, and have been united almost from the beginning, though they maintain two separate boards.

The general consensus among attendees of the associations' main annual event was that although the convention's three headliners were all engaging, the three-day conference was disappointing, at least for TV marketing professionals in attendance. For those who had shunned the event in droves, the outcome was, one could assume, predictable.

While in the past, Promax has been an important event for television promotion gurus, this year's edition in particular seemed to be targeted at new media companies and composed more of flashy gimmicks than informative TV sessions. Despite rising attendance figures, startlingly few TV-related exhibitors were on hand and even fewer TV promotions executives graced the mostly empty floor of the Hilton.

In an interview, recently appointed association president Jonathan Block-Verk boasted that Promax "has seen participation go up, while other conferences have seen it go down." However, only 31 exhibitors (of which 19 were only loosely TV-related) could be found in booths in the Networking Village and kiosks outside the grand ballroom, and only nine companies set up shop in suites. The booths were occupied primarily by Web-based music companies like Musicbox and Rumblefish, as well as new media promotion firms. A few venerable giants, including ESPN, MTV, Sony and Warner Brothers, represented the television sector, albeit in a low-key manner.

According to Block-Verk, Promax's new emphasis on Internet-based marketing is a response to the changing face of the entertainment industry. He explained that, in the technology and effects-driven world of promotion, the Web is becoming increasingly important. "Of course we've talked about the Internet before at Promax," he said, "But this year we're talking about innovation, we're talking about what the Internet means to the business and how you can use it and what opportunities are out there." And although Promax seems to be in a period of evolution from...

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