Only once this week, but never weak
By Nick Coston, US sales director, Neuron; Art writer
One third of my family lives in Chicago, another third in Greece, the rest in California, New Jersey, and here in Maryland. So it is quite difficult to have a family reunion. We try our best in our own state or country, but it will be a great achievement to bring everyone together.
But our industry has stopped it, the final family reunion, just this past week. It’s been three years. Oh sure it was terribly expensive, some left Covid positive, some suffered from malnutrition due to lack of conference food, some still without jobs. However, the Royal Tanenbaum is no different than an OOH version, with all its rich character. I’m not sure who actually played Jean Hackman, we’re not really that dishonest. In fact, I noticed that we were all relatively happy and excited to see each other. I’m glad to see all of you, it’s been a really long two years since we last did it. Even with the cancellation of some important person due to covid during the game, we endured, we got through it.
Of course there were the usual glitches that were unplanned. Lots of “off-campus” Airbnb and their evening party that reminded me that I had lost a kidney, woke up in an ice tub. I don’t need to lose another one so sorry I turned down all those texted invitations. Then there were the notable divisions among the attendees, who registered for the actual conference and who chose to save a pop up to 00 1700, hang out at the pool, pool bar and beach, doing what our industry does very well, entertaining colleagues.
Either way, both sides of this divide have accomplished what they set out to do, sadly not together. It’s like having two different receptions for the same wedding, but you can only attend one. I counted at least 10 close colleagues with whom I looked forward to spending some time that I never got the chance because they never attended an event inside the hotel where they said more than 700 payers were present.
But there is no right, no wrong, participants were doing what they came to do, to meet, to talk, to laugh, to have a drink or five, and to see people in person and kill some zombies. What’s in it
I did it in the playroom on Monday night. But to do this you need a participant pass. If not here’s a new product just for you!
So what does it mean to ensure that this division among participants does not happen again so shamelessly?
Jeremy Men’s CEO hit it best during the round table on Wednesday morning. Out of hundreds of participants, less than 70 seem to have worked for the agency. Direct client was zero.
This is less than 10% of registered participants in non-OOH companies. Our shame.
These are not good numbers. We can do better than that. Maybe some of the larger OOH companies can cut each, ten types of management that always seem to show up year after year, and invite more agencies and clients. For one, I would be happy to invite a client to the Nashville event next March. Who is going to meet me? What a great way to show off our art, isn’t it? And the only way to make it work is if we lower the price, it’s much higher now. Some small billboard companies can’t afford to have only two or three people join, which is why they choose to put together their own out-of-conference get-togethers. They have no choice, either or they don’t show up. It would be a shame, the cost would be locked out. Deflating how that would feel.
Let’s not just continue to do this for big companies and big agencies, we are smart enough in our industry to figure out how to be more inclusive. Imagine the opening of the 2023 conference with 1200 paid participants and guests surrounded by barista coffee bars and breakfast snacks, sitting at their best on Sunday. OOH is a real mix of companies, sellers, agencies and Lordy, some clients. Perhaps this will alleviate some of the separation we felt last week at Marco. Not to be Karen, but there were some good friends who said they were coming to the conference, told me I would see them, but I never did. They were. So am I. I was not in the same part of the resort. We tagged or lagged off our names, and our price was divided by points.
Don’t blame Speaker lineup, They were all pretty awesome awesome. In fact, I thought it was one of the most intelligent conventions I’ve ever had It really comes down to affordability and what you get for what you provide. The registration fee, the cost of accommodation, the cost and the relative hassle of moving to Marco Island, Florida, no matter how beautiful the resort is, small shops have a reason not to register. And why I miss meeting some good friends.
This is really the result of that old phrase “perfect storm”. It’s not anyone’s fault, but it’s definitely everyone’s fault. There is nothing wrong with that, which means it can be fixed.
And maybe, just next year, before the OB Awards, you can at least give our hungry participants some peanut or potato chips during Cocktail Hour. Geesh, don’t let us be embarrassed in front of all the guests we will invite to Nashville next year.
We’re not really too far away, GO2022 was an entertaining conference, a lot of fun. Imagine for a second you were transposed into the karmic driven world of Earl. Press on big people to invite agencies and clients and do what OOH does best, reach out to many people at once.
It was nice to have almost the whole family in one place. Not a boxing match, just a three-day reunion where no one died. Although the bar wasn’t so much for this year, I would say it was a good show, most of us left smiling.
And I left with my back-up kidneys.