Campaign Diary: Advertising Week Europe special

The Advertising Week Circus has once more rolled into town giving, providing entertainment for everyone.

Advertising Week Europe: annual circus
Advertising Week Europe: annual circus

As per the annual tradition, it’s that time of year when Diary sneers at the Advertising Week Europe circus, which has rolled into town. A smattering of ITV Be-style trashy celebrities and endless pondering panel sessions where everyone agrees with one another, along with barely-disguised workshops that are heavy on the sales patter; well, we wouldn’t have it any other way. So here are some highlights:

There was amusing fallout from the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica row: some of the Fleet Street press pack descended on Facebook EMEA vice-president Nicola Mendelsohn's "in conversation" session with former Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger (why?) in the hopes of asking some tough questions. Alas Facebook's PR minders controlled the event and the audience questions, which were submitted via Facebook Live. Then Mendelsohn exited sharpish afterwards without a word about Cambridge Analytica – much to the chagrin of the news hounds clutching their notebooks. They should have collared Facebook's two most senior sales people in the UK, Steve Hatch and Ed Couchman, who stuck around in the auditorium after Mendelsohn's session. But the journos were blissfully unaware of the identity of Hatch and Couchman, so walked straight past them. Given Hatch is on the board of Trinity Mirror, he'd love to go on the record...

In fairness to organisers, there were moments of levity too. Hearst’s chief executive James Wildman managed to liven up his session by constantly referring to Oath as "oaf" to the irritation of its EMEA vice-president Stuart Flint. And, in one of the genuinely interesting sessions, Grey London’s joint executive creative directors Vicki Maguire and Caroline Pay had the audience eating out of their hands. Heavy on swear words, "Why F**k Ups are Fundamental for Creative Futures" played to a packed house and came with the warning from Maguire: "If you don’t like profanities, fuck off now."

Elsewhere delegates were left disappointed when they found out 15 minutes before he was due to speak that Sir Martin Sorrell had been "unavoidably delayed in New York" and was therefore unable to appear in person for the ‘CNN Global Conversation’. Fortunately he was patched in, a bit like Sir Harry from Spooks, and appeared via live satellite. Exciting times.

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