Today’s marketing and advertising landscape may be more laden with legal tripwires, regulatory mines, sharp corners, and dead ends than ever before. Technology is definitely evolving in real time, new laws are creating a tangled web of regulation, and consumers are savvier and more in control than ever.

Fortunately, the 36th Annual BAA / PMA Marketing Law Conference – themed Navigating the Marketing Law Maze – is here to help you find that elusive piece of cheese at the end. Taking place November 5 – 7, 2014 at the Windy City’s Downtown Chicago Marriott, the conference is built for inside and outside counsel, marketing executives and the increasingly eclectic mix of professionals caught at the crowded intersection of compliance and consumer outreach.

The BAA, or Brand Activation Association, is the organization formerly known as the PMA, or Promotional Marketing Association. In July of 2014, the BAA joined the ANA (Association of National Advertisers), giving the new organization more firepower than ever before to help its members understand what motivates consumer behavior and activates brand responses.

It takes change to know change, and after emerging stronger from its own internal evolution, the BAA has readied an agenda full of experts and thought leaders to educate attendees on what’s new in disciplines ranging from social and digital media to big data, privacy, intellectual property, and more.

The Way I See It

  • I see that the BAA has embraced change within its organization, smartly pivoting to reflect the rapid change of the marketing and advertising verticals it represents. After a rebrand and merger with ANA, BAA has emerged better equipped to serve its members.
  • I see that keeping abreast of the latest technologies and regulatory turns is more complicated than ever, and that trying to do so on your own can be daunting, if not overwhelming. I believe this makes attending the BAA / PMA Marketing Law Conference more than a “nice to have” opportunity to network with peers and meet vendors. It’s a critical content download that equips attendees with actionable knowledge and resources, including a 1,800-page conference workbook and flash drive, as well as a Law & Forms guide with sample contracts and new rules to know.
  • I see the BAA / PMA Marketing Law Conference has valuable, approachable insights for folks at all points of the marketing and advertising law learning curve. Don’t feel that you’re too junior or too senior to attend.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Bonnie Carlson, the President & CEO of BAA, to preview the upcoming Marketing Law Conference and discuss how her organization is dealing with change – both internally and throughout the industries she serves.


The BAA has changed and grown a lot over the past two years I don’t need to tell you. But on the heels of a rebrand just a few years ago, how is the ANA merger impacting the BAA, its membership, and most importantly, this year’s Marketing Law Conference?

The ANA merger is having a profound impact on BAA’s ability to provide additional benefits to its members.  Part of the reason for this is ANA’s willingness to manage many back-end functions for BAA, yet allowing us to keep our headcount to reinvest in additional services / products for our members.  ANA’s mantra is all about exceeding members’ expectations by providing a quality experience.  One example for the legal members is the Dierson Law Books, those authoritative two-volume sets of books on the marketing laws of all 50 states that have always been available for members-only at a price of $795 and that will, for the first time, be available to members on a searchable, electronic subscription basis for free.  A second example is a one-day legal conference on the business side of law that will be hosted by MasterCard next spring for ANA and BAA members-only for free.

Navigating the Marketing Law Maze is the theme of this year’s conference. How much of the content and what specifically will attendees have access to that will help them make their way through this metaphorical maze? In other words, what is an example of a concrete tactic an attendee would walk away with to navigate a specific compliance challenge?

Attendees at this year’s Law Conference will be able to uncover what land mines might exist in the Marketing Law Maze through insightful legal and business presentations, whether they be in native advertising or real time marketing, and a myriad of other topics. Attendees will also receive a 1800+ page reference binder to consult throughout the year.

You’re bringing in more than 100 speakers this year, including some pretty big names: Carine Roman, Head of Global Advertising Operations for LinkedIn; and Jessica Rich, Director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection for the Federal Trade Commission. Is there a speaker someone who may not have the same name recognition – who’s floating a bit under the radar and is someone who attendees should absolutely consider seeing?

We’re excited about the 120+ speakers at this year’s conference.  It’s important for the attendees to hear from speakers like Jessica Rich on the regulatory side, who can provide insight on policy and enforcement, to see what has the attention of the FTC.  In addition, Carine Roman, speaking for a leader in social media like LinkedIn, can provide the same kind of peek into what’s keeping the social media marketers up at night.

What’s the biggest low-hanging fruit opportunity you see out there that companies simply aren’t grabbing when it comes to managing consumer engagement in accordance with applicable regulations?

Marketers have always been focused on making the sale – the first (or zero) moment of truth – and all the advertising and promotion that motivates that sale.  With consumers in control now, so much more needs to be focused on what the consumer has to say after the sale, via reviews, blogs, social media, repurchase of the product, and ultimately making that consumer a loyal advocate for the brand.  A big contributor to the positive experience – and one I think marketers don’t think about enough – is customer service, with attention from employees and everyone who touches the brand.

What is the coolest object in your office?

The coolest object in my office may be a large painting I did with one of the BAA staff in 2009 – signed by him and me – that looks a little like a Jackson Pollock painting.  He and I went to Home Depot, bought canvas and a lot of spray paints, and made “art work” for the office.  Most people took theirs home; mine fills one wall of my office.