In 2004 – the inaugural year of the industry’s biggest event, Advertising Week – Facebook was launched as a social networking site open only to Harvard students.  Now ten years old, Advertising Week – like social media – has seen many changes and, more importantly, has shaped critical conversations driving change in the advertising industry in the past decade.  Advertising Week now has its very own app, not to mention too many hashtags to count.  With dialogue and events on the most important topics in the industry, featuring many of the industry’s biggest innovators, movers, and shakers, Advertising Week is the most important week of the year for everyone on Madison Ave and beyond.

The Way I See It

  • I see an event that has grown vastly in the past ten years, mirroring the growth and innovation that the industry has achieved, to present hundreds of events, discussions, panels, and live case studies  on advertising’s most important issues.
  • I see a week of creativity and innovation that is truly unmatched.  With some of the brightest minds in an industry that is notorious for driving change faster than you can say, “Advertising Week is a hotbed for big ideas.”
  • For Advertising Week’s tenth year, programming is right on point for what will shape advertising moving forward, with mobile, data, video, and innovation tracks.  With a session called “Will Robots Ever Cut Your Bangs,” it’s safe to say that Advertising Week is looking toward the future.
  • I see the industry’s biggest leaders gathering in New York City to share and discuss the latest ideas, creations, and technology that are shaping the future of the industry.

The Way The Industry Sees It

I sat down with Matt Freeman, the Chairman of Advertising Week and Operating Partner at Bain Capital, to discuss all the details of Advertising Week’s tenth year.


It’s hard to believe Advertising Week is in its tenth year.  The industry has experienced a lot of change in this past decade – the advent of smartphones, Twitter, and YouTube, to name a few.  How do you think this year will differ from others in terms of programming and topics?

Data has truly become a central player in marketing – as is reflected in the strong presence of technology and analytic companies this week. The ability to use data to unify and optimize a brand’s connection to consumers – increasingly in real time – may be the most dynamic sector of marketing today, and it is changing all facets of the business. This data trend not only makes for exciting new capabilities, but also for a more diverse set of talents and conversations – ultimately a great strength for our industry.  Also, Pamela Anderson will be doing a Q&A. So, to summarize: data and Pam Anderson.

What role do you think this week plays in the industry?

Advertising Week is a unique chance for our industry to come together each year for both celebration and (even more importantly) advancement.  Our business is replete with award shows, but Advertising Week is a chance to celebrate the best and brightest aspects of marketing in the interest of education and advancement.  From promoting diversity to attracting and developing young professionals, the week is fundamentally centered on the long term health of advertising – in turn, a vital driver of our economy.

There are a number of panels and events on some of the most important conversations right now, including start-ups, the visual revolution, data, Return on Investment (ROI), and even the notion of “Lean In.”  What topic do you think is going to define Advertising Week 2013?

I think the defining topic will be collaboration.  The complexity of the modern marketing ecosystem is staggering. Just looking through the seminars this week, you have participants not just from creative and media, but from fields ranging from hardware and software to entertainment to government to venture capital to law.  Marshaling the collective power of all these formerly disparate partners is essential to marketers today.

What’s in store in terms of celebrating the tenth year?

From the opening parade of Advertising Icons on Madison Avenue to the “Wrap Party” with Questlove, Advertising Week X undoubtedly represents yet another high water mark for the event in New York City.  Ten years since its inception, however, Advertising Week has become even more than the (already ambitious) annual event that was originally envisioned.  The success of Advertising Week Europe and the AWE marketing technology expo point to a bigger, broader and more global future for the week. As a reflection on the past ten years, we will also take a moment this week to honor some of the founders of Advertising Week – including the late Ken Kaess, my former boss, mentor, and friend.

What do you hope to see Advertising Week contribute in the next ten years?

Beyond continuing to grow the (already meaningful) financial contributions Advertising Week generates for our industry, I hope the initiative continues its expansion from a local event to a multifaceted global platform.  I hope that it continues to pull in diverse voices from the worlds of technology and entertainment and beyond.  And most of all, I hope that Advertising Week continues to elevate the industry of advertising.

And just for fun, what is the coolest thing in your office?

For me, it is a photograph of my wife and our three sons.