Advertising Week Europe: The journey so far

From Snowden to AI, creativity and storytelling, AWE's Executive Director Matt Scheckner on the themes to have punctuated the AWE journey.

Back in December of 2012, IPA Director General Paul Bainsfair was kind enough to invite a mildly brash American to address a group of industry leaders at the IPA’s office on Belgrave Square. I don't recall everyone in the room, beyond Paul and Nicola Mendelsohn who was passing the IPA Presidential torch to Ian Priest on that particular day. The assembled group was warm, but understandably wary. I’m sure I made a few mistakes, as I’ve learned in five years some of our nomenclature changes when crossing the Atlantic. With Paul leading the charge, the message was clear - we don't have anything like Advertising Week in Europe; London was the right place for it; and let’s support this and see what happens.

Jump ahead to March 2013 and Advertising Week Europe’s first-ever event - our inaugural Ronnie Scott’s Leadership Breakfast with The Guardian. With Alan Rusbridger leading a conversation on the aftermath of Edward Snowden. Who knew then what prevalence hacking would take in global geo-politics?

When I walked into Ronnie Scott’s that morning just a few minutes after 8am I had only one thought as I went down the corridor and through the fabled red velvet curtain: would there be anyone in the room? Well, the room was already heaving and thankfully, this was a bellwether for things to come.

Our first five years has been a fascinating, exciting and incredibly rewarding journey. Common threads tie the whole thing together going all the way back to the first-ever Opening Gala hosted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in my hometown of New York City in 2004 right through to St. James’s Palace in 2017. Advertising Week is a reflective mirror of popular culture and the absence of a singular theme has always allowed us to paint with whatever colours and style suit a given moment in time. In 2004, virtually none of the subject areas and players who are so prevalent today existed, in any form. Others sat on top of mountains, supremacy unchallenged with little or no idea what the convergence of content, technology and distribution would do to business models. Much of the nomenclature which dominates the 2017 thought leadership agenda - artificial intelligence, data driven marketing and virtual reality - did not exist when we began. Back in 2004, Facebook (by way of example) was only on the Harvard campus. So much has changed and evolved, but concurrently, nothing has changed. The enduring power of creativity, storytelling and engaging audiences remain central to the success equation. As the great Tower of Power lyrics go in their funk tribute, Diggin’ on James Brown: “You know, the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

So as we prepare to raise the curtain Monday morning at Ronnie Scott’s, add the Lyric Theatre into the mix as we premiere our new Town Hall Series on the West End, and return to Picturehouse Central for year two after our first three successful years at BAFTA, we have never been more optimistic. The passion which drives our industry is unmatched and the relentless pursuit to learn from the world’s best and brightest drives everything we do. If you are not already registered to attend, there simply isn't a better way to better your work-self than by attending Advertising Week Europe, and along the way, you can fulfill your annual CPD requirements faster, and cheaper. No other global industry event offers more for less, and our new Amplify programme creates a point of entry which combines access to the daytime seminar programme and many of our most prized special events.

See you next week, and right back here in London next year. And thank you Paul for opening the door way back when.

Matt Scheckner is the Global CEO of Advertising Week