Posts tagged Upfront

Upfront and Personal

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My journey into the world of advertising upfronts continued this year. I’ve already recounted the story of the Scripps upfront where I made it seem like I was a crazy person to one of their top talents. The next two I attended were very different. The first was for Hulu and the second was for Adult Swim.

I was excited for the Hulu presentation because I’m a big fan of the brand. They’re basically my cable provider now. I’m sure that Cablevision and other MSOs aren’t happy to hear that but I get all the TV entertainment I want, when I want it, from Hulu and Hulu Plus. The event was very laid back and much more relaxed than the Scripps upfront. While they talked about the new shows that they had coming up, it was more about how Hulu is changing the TV landscape which was far more interesting. As a cable cord cutter, I’m fascinated by how things like online and mobile video are changing the way we consume media. Appointment viewing is dying.

Anyway, they showed off the Hulu Plus integration with Xbox Kinect which should be coming up soon and now I really want to get a Kinect just so I can use it and feel like I’m in the future. After the presentation was over, the 88s performed while an impressive spread of food was served. I’m talking little grilled cheeses, tacos, and mini cheeseburgers. Very cool. Overall great experience.

A few weeks later I went to the Adult Swim upfront. I was hesitant about going to this one because it was from 9 PM to 1 AM on a Wednesday in the city. I don’t like to go anywhere, especially late at night because I’m an old person that likes to go to bed at a reasonable hour after having a glass of warm milk. My colleague, Rob convinced me to go, explaining that if you only go to one upfront, this is the one to go to. Plus they had Jay-Z as a musical guest. That’s big, right?

After a brief pre-party, we filed into the Roseland Ballroom and waited…and waited. We stood around and chatted for about two hours. There were some appetizers making the rounds, the most notable of which was some spaghetti and meatballs on a little fork. There is a plus here though. I got to meet Seth Green. He was just walking by and we went up to him and chatted for a bit. He seems like a generally nice guy. I didn’t figure out that my flash was completely turned off until after the fact, but hey, I got a picture with him. That was cool.

Also, the whole theme for this event was owls. They were everywhere. There were two huge owls shooting lasers out of their eyes. There was a guy in a big creepy owl suit operating an egg contraption at the door. Seriously, owls everywhere.

After standing and waiting for awhile, the presentation finally began, if you can call it that. There was an epic 120 second countdown while “The Final Countdown” blared from the speakers. Then the briefest and least pretentious reel was played where Adult Swim showed some of their programs and didn’t hide the fact that they invited everyone here for one reason and one reason only: They want our money. That’s what these things are all about but I’m just glad that someone had the balls to admit it.

After the video was over a 10 minute countdown came up on the screen. It was then that they stopped using the speakers that were playing the loud background music and started using the speakers that they’d be using for the performance. These were about 5 times louder and located about 10 feet away from me. After what felt like forever, the countdown reached zero and the show began. Jay-Z came on stage and started performing. He was ridiculously close, not that I could see him clearly with the wave of cellphone cameras that shot into the air. Up until this point, the only Jay-Z songs I had heard were part of DJ Danger Mouse’s fantastic Grey Album that mixed the rapper’s Black Album with the Beatles’ White Album. I’ve learned that most of Jay-Z’s songs have a very different feel to them outside of this album. As a result he would get halfway through a song before I realized I had heard it before.

The crowd went completely ape-shit too. Where I had a bit of breathing room before the show started, I was now cramped like a sardine. Jay-Z often yelled “Put your hands up!” and I attempted to awkwardly do so but could barely bend my elbow, let alone raise my entire arm. He played for at least an hour before I decided to call it a night around 12:15. I made my way downstairs to pick up my bag from the coat check and my ears were ringing like crazy. They continued to ring well into the next day but it was totally worth it. Amazing upfront, and like I said, they didn’t hide the fact that they just want my money. That’s great.

James and the Big City (Part 1 of 2)

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I work in advertising and since I’m in this business and I work so close to New York City, I get invited to various events that the sites, networks, and stations put together down there. Normally I don’t even consider going to these things. I feign interest and act like I want to go but deep down I don’t care enough to do anything about it. I just don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving down to the city, finding parking, and then dealing with the commute back. I also don’t feel like taking the train in just for some event that might not be entirely relevant to me. Plus, I usually just want to go home after work and rest and watch DVDs or play video games. I’m a simple guy. That being said, I went to the city (by car, no less!) two nights in a row last week.

Co-worker Rena was invited to the A&E / Lifetime upfront presentation at the IAC Building on Tuesday but she couldn’t go. She offered me the invite. At first glance, I figured I’d do my usual “Oh yeah, I should check that out…” and then not do anything about it. Something caught my attention on the invite though. There would be a performance by John Legend and the Roots. Now, I had no idea who John Legend was, but I’m a big fan of the Roots. I thought about it for a little while before finally deciding to RSVP. Like I said, I get invited to stuff like this and it’s not always relevant to me, but here is something that I’d actually be interesting in attending. Good deal. I responded and I was good to go.

Tuesday came and I drove down to the city for the event. The place was decked out and a ton of people ended up squeezing into the lobby of the building. If you’ve never been to the IAC Building, you’ve probably at least driven past it on the West Side Highway and thought “That’s a really weird looking building.” It is, but it’s a beautiful space. I hobknobed with some of the reps we work with and talked to some co-workers all the while snagging some of the appetizers that were making their way around the room. Thanks to the fact that everyone was wearing nametags I spotted a rep at an agency that we’ve been working with and made an introduction. That worked out really well. Great networking.

The presentation began and I started spotting some celebrities near by. I saw the twins from the show Sister, Sister from like 15 years ago. They apparently have some show on A&E or something now. I also saw the winner of Project Runway which Rob pointed out to me after I saw him and thought “That guy looks really weird.” William Shatner and David Hasselhoff were also in attendance. After the promo reels were show displaying the upcoming shows on A&E, Lifetime, and History it was time for some entertainment. Bob Saget (who also has a show on A&E now) did a few minutes of stand-up. Despite claiming that it was his clean act, it was still pretty dirty and very funny. After that John Legend and the Roots took the stage. As I mentioned before, I had never heard of John Legend. He put on a great show. I would have liked to have seen more from the Roots though. It was basically John Legend with his backup band, The Roots. I head out after the music stopped and got home in about 40 minutes which surprised me.

My one regret from the evening was not taking my camera with me. I left it in my messenger bag which I checked to avoid having to lug it around with me all night. There were plenty of times that I wished I had it with me as there were many photo opportunities that would have accompanied this blog post.

That was my first of two nights in the city. Part two will come (hopefully) tomorrow. Will our hero eat more appetizers? Will he perform small talk with various people he may or may not know? What if he gets lost? Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion!

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